Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg at the end of August, shared on social networks a photo of a panel exposed toGoldie’s Bagels in downtown Colombia.
The message from the popular bagel shop was simple: “Anyone who needs it, come and eat.”
This image has gone viral online, garnering over 9,700 retweets, nearly 900 quote tweets and around 80,000 likes. Ruttenberg shared the photo on his Twitter account of the original Facebook post of Columbia resident Lauren Williams.
Ruttenberg, in an email to the Tribune, wrote that she wanted to share the sign online because “it was a beautiful and powerful sentiment, not only a wonderful expression of Jewish values (which it is), but also of the broader philosophy of community care, to which we should all strive.”
“We should all take care of each other. We should all always say, ‘We’re glad you’re here,'” she continued. care and justice from our respective positions and abilities.”
So what does the sign say and what does it mean?
Goldie’s offers a bagel with schmear and/or a cup of coffee to those who need it and can’t afford it themselves. Anyone who comes to pick up something to eat or drink can request that the order be debited from the neighboring account.
“We didn’t want this to go viral,” Goldie owner Amanda Rainey said. “We honestly debated whether we wanted to put the inscription on at all. People were already contributing quite a bit, and we just wanted to express our values.”
When people make a purchase at Goldie’s, they can ask to contribute to help pay the neighbor account balance.
“I like that it resonates with people,” Rainey said.
The system can be a good model for other companies, she added.
Rainey knows Ruttenberg well, having read one of her books and following her online.
Response to the online post has been positive. Comments included: “It’s amazing”; “The world needs more of this”; and “Distribute/copy this model”, among others.
Goldie’s is one of the few places in Colombia with a “buy a meal, give a meal” practice. Others include Broadway dinner, pizza tree and La Fata Pasta. If you own a restaurant in Colombia with such a program, please contact the Tribune so this story can be updated.
“We tied it to our Jewish values as a Jewish-owned business and the value of giving to others in need,” Rainey said of the bakery practice. “We’re also in downtown Columbia right in the middle of that community and have regular (customers) coming.
“It just feels more like a community.”
When Ruttenberg posted the image to his Twitter account on Aug. 25, the nearby account had a fairly high balance at the time, Rainey said.
The balance was paid to zero on Thursday.
“We won’t take any more money (for the account) until we feed more people, and we feed four to five people a day,” Rainey said.
Help during the pandemic
Goldie got her start at Pizza Tree as a pop-up. Rainey and her husband, Johnny Gilbreth, also own Pizza Tree, which once provided a free slice of pizza and water to the unsheltered population of Columbia.
“We opened (Goldie’s) at Pizza Tree six months after covid“, Rainey said, adding that when he moved to his location at 114 S. Ninth St., the practice of coming to eat was a continuation of what is done at Pizza Tree.
The slice of cheese or pepperoni pizza offered through the window equals thousands of dollars in food sales per month, Gilbreth said. Unlike other restaurants, Pizza Tree does not have the infrastructure in place for people to contribute to its food program, he added.
When the lockdown took place in March 2020, freebies became the restaurant’s low-key policy, Gilbreth said, noting he had worked to help feed the hungry since Pizza Tree opened in 2014.
“I’ve heard people tell me more than once that (the free slice) saved their lives,” he said.
Restaurants like Broadway Diner and Pasta La Fata created their “buy one, give one” practice in part in response to the pandemic.
Broadway Diner has a Kids in Need Diner, or KIND, account through First Mid Bank and Trust, or people can mail a check directly to the restaurant at 22 S. Fourth St.
The restaurant provided simple meals for those in need even before the pandemic, however, owner Dave Johnson said. The pandemic program was focused on school-aged children, but it helps all ages, he said.
“That’s always been what we do. If we see someone hungry, my faith and my beliefs say you feed them, feed them, take care of them and love them,” Johnson said.
Pasta La Fata has what are called Scrappy Meals. Leftover pasta from making ravioli and other pasta is combined with sauce and any additional leftovers from other store-made products and can be collected from store freezers.
“People can just open the freezer door and take it to a friend or family member or anyone else in need,” owner Shelly La Fata said.
If people want to contribute, they can ask the registry to add an extra $5 to their bill to help with Scrappy Meals material and labor costs.
People have already contributed up to $50, La Fata said.
“We started doing it during the pandemic because people and our friends were out of work,” she said. “We realized that there are so many other people who need an extra comforting meal. people out of work due to COVID.”
Goldie’s is gearing up for fall
Goldie’s Bagels expanded its menu over the summer. This includes special days, such as pastrami sandwiches on Tuesday or challah on Friday.
When students return, Rainey sees what demand will look like before new menu expansions, she said.
“This is our first open fall semester,” she said. “We’re just trying to maintain what we’re doing and make more bagels for the weekend.”
Rainey is also preparing for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which begins September 25.
Goldie’s opened its Ninth Street location in December 2021 with a fairly steady stream of activity.
“The summer in Colombia can be long, but it was stable. We have a lot of regulars,” Rainey said.
The pandemic was a big part of the inspiration behind Goldie’s. When everyone was making sourdough, Rainey decided to make bagels, which takes two days.
“I had always told my husband that I was going to make bagels one day (at Pizza Tree),” she said. “It worked to be able to do it there, and then it kind of took off.”
When Rainey started at the Ninth Street location, she had four other employees.
It now has 16 employees.
“I don’t come from a restaurant background other than providing moral support to my husband,” she said. “I wanted to start simple, slow and not overwhelm us. It worked well for us.”
Charles Dunlap covers local government, community stories and other general topics for the Tribune. You can reach him at [email protected] or @CD_CDT on Twitter. Please consider subscribing to support vital local journalism.