January 4, 2018
I’m a little disappointed with the Bob Evans Corporation. And I’m sure there are many former employees right there with me. In case you don’t know, the Bob Evans in Newport, Kentucky, closed its doors in October of 2017. It’s gotta say somewhere that they are not allowed to do that.
As far as I know all my family and friends like Bob’s, but my father has to top the list of Farm lovers. If there is a Bob Evans in Heaven, Dad’s probably there right now. If so, he may well be enjoying coffee along with chicken and noodles, made with slow-roasted chicken, ladled over a heaping pile of mashed potatoes and freshly made buttermilk biscuits. Of course, beside it would be the homemade banana nut bread. Eating this meal just might be the closest you can get to sinning up there.
I ate many times with my dad at the Bob Evans in New Philadelphia, Ohio, especially during the last years of his life. He had retired from his role as pastor of the church right down the road from there, but I could see he was still in the soul business. When the many people in town that he knew came inside and passed the table Dad always occupied when he was there—and they had to pass that table to get to most of the others—he’d smile and greet them. One of his favorite questions was, “How’s the Lord treatin’ you?” They’d smile and enthusiastically report their blessings. His follow-up was a little tougher: “How ya treatin’ the Lord?” Most of the time that report wasn’t nearly as good.
The first time I heard Dad do that, I was amused at the uncomfortable change of direction that the conversation took. That is, until he saw the glint in my eye and proceeded to direct those same two questions at moi. For some reason, it wasn’t nearly as funny that time.
Bob Evans has had an effect on my body, mind, and soul. The body part is obvious. Dad would say, “Why do you think they put those extra holes in your belt?”
The discussions Dad and I had helped expand my thinking processes as well as my waist. We debated spiritual issues constantly. On many issues there was no disagreement. Like we don’t get to heaven on how well we treat the Lord or no one would get there. We agreed John 3:16 is the answer to that. Phew!
There were plenty of disagreements, though. Sometimes there was give and take; other times, not so much. He kept me on my toes. He liked to say, “If you want to be right sooner, you might as well go ahead and agree with me now.” OK Dad, whatever.
One morning over a stack of pancakes, Dad started a discussion with a total reversal from a stance he had taken just the day before. What? I slipped into a reversal myself before I realized it. One of our best Bob Evans laughs together. It was just one example of how Dad liked to play devil’s advocate. Besides the fact that he really seemed to enjoy doing that, I think he was also making sure he taught his son to look at both sides of a disagreement. Those were good times.
I haven’t mentioned Dad’s case of dementia that developed during his last year or two. He started doing things that were not totally rational. On one particular day, he was quite confused and left a crisp $100 bill under his coffee cup. Lucky waitress, right?
Well, I don’t know how lucky this particular lady happens to be, but I do know she is one honest person. Some might say she was losing it herself, but she returned the bill to the office of Dad’s former pastorate. She must have figured he had other intentions for that money than leaving her a thousand percent gratuity.
Yeah, to me Bob Evans means food for the body and for the mind. But I got a big serving of high-calorie food for my soul the day the church office called and told me they had Dad’s money, and why. The waitress didn’t even give her name.
Though over a decade has gone by since then, I still usually leave big “payback tips” at Bob Evans. Especially when I happen to dine at the one in New Philadelphia.
On the off chance that anyone feels sorry for me that my Bob Evans closed, no worries because there’s another one nearby in Cold Spring. In fact, I just stopped there the other day to order a meal for a photo for this blog. I did go ahead and eat it since I was already there, and I would have to pay for it anyway.
I hope the Newport employees found work quickly after the restaurant closed its doors, maybe at another Bob Evans. Unemployment’s tough, especially around the holidays.
Gladly, there’ll be no sadness in Heaven. Why would there be? Especially if there’s a Bob Evans. I’m sure the meals would be free. They’d probably have the same food but with no calories! Pancakes would be so light and fluffy they’d be floating around the room. You could just stab one with your fork and weigh it down on your plate with butter and syrup.
And if you want to tip big, you could just look around for a loose chunk of Heaven’s streets of gold to leave beside your coffee cup.