Dining With Dignity

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Think about the reasons you go to a restaurant. Part of it is for good food, of course, but most of us also enjoy the atmosphere and being served. As Kim Riemland reports, a restaurant in Seattle recognizes that even those who are homeless hunger for the same kind of dignified dining experience as the rest of us.

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In the heart of downtown Seattle, members of local churches and civic groups enjoy a fund-raising dinner at Boomtown Café. They’re here for a good meal, and a good cause.

Because by day, the customers come from a different walk.

This is one of the nation’s few non-profit restaurants. It gives very low-income and homeless customers a dignified dining experience.

Kara Martin / Boomtown Café: “Rather than going into a soup kitchen, the folks can come into a café and be served.”

Unlike most feeding programs, the café offers menu choices. People can sit with their friends, eat from nice plates and enjoy the comfort of a real restaurant. The food is inexpensive, but not a handout – customers can pay with cash or food stamps, or earn a meal for each 15 minutes worked. Waiting tables, cleaning up, even providing music for other customers can translate to a meal or two.

Delvikeo LeCour / Boomtown Customer: “Places like the mission and everything else, you know, they’re good, but still again, it’s not really giving us hope like this place is. See what I’m saying? This place is giving us a lot of hope because it’s making us feel wanted in society.”

Kristin Ellison-Oslin / Seattle First UMC: “It welcomes the people who aren’t normally welcomed.”

Deacon Kristin Ellison-Oslin of Seattle’s First United Methodist Church says her congregation supports the café because its customers hunger for more than food.

Kristin Ellison-Oslin: “They’re hungry for grace, acceptance, appropriate treatment.”

Boomtown serves 500 meals each weekday. It’s a program that nourishes stomach and soul.

I’m Kim Riemland reporting.


Boomtown is open every weekday for breakfast and lunch. The number of meals they serve has increased by more than a third, just in the past year.