Winston-Salem restaurant offers discount for displays of gratitude

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Customers who pray, meditate, or simply say ‘thank you’ before eating are getting a nice surprise on their bills at Mary’s Gourmet Diner — 15 percent off.

Owner Mary Haglund says she enjoys watching the moment of quietness some customers show before eating.

“It’s a gift to us to watch them appreciate our food,” Haglund said who co-owns the restaurant with her daughter.

Whether a bowed head or a few seconds of stillness, Haglund tries to notice all displays of gratitude.

She has been offering the discount for the past four years at the restaurant on North Trade Street.

“We don’t tell the people they’re getting a discount,” Haglund said. “We’ve never promoted it.  We just present the ticket.”

It’s a ticket presented to all customers no matter who or what they believe in.

“This is not a religious thing,” she said. “This is a thankful thing.”

The discount isn’t a set policy or rule. It’s up to the server’s discretion.

Some choose to give the discount, others don’t.

“My wait staff is under no obligation,” Haglund said. “Some people I have that work here are kind of opposed to it and that’s fine.”

After a recent customer who got the discount posted her receipt on Facebook, the news went viral and so did criticism.

“A lot of people on the Internet right now have a lot of negative things to say about it,” Haglund said.

“It’s Christian, or it’s this, or it’s that,” she said. “It’s not. It’s just an attitude of gratitude.”

It’s an attitude some customers say brings a different energy to the restaurant.

“There’s just an atmosphere here of an open-heartedness,” said one customer.

“I think it’s a reflection on the ownership and what they feel and value as important,” said Curtis Hodge, a customer.

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