Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to Texas I go...
This week's portion: either/or (Behukkotai)

Eat At Joe's

I'd never been to Joseph's Storehouse Restaurant & Bakery before. It was founded in 1992, the year I left town, so it wasn't even on my mental map of San Antonio. Not until we ate lunch there today.

Joseph's is run by a pastor named Patrick. When Patrick came over to our table, I told him it was my first visit, and asked if he would tell me about the place. He seemed happy to oblige, and told the story of how his wife got into milling grains and baking bread, back when he was a fulltime pastor. Eventually he founded his own non-denominational church, and his family found themselves in need of funds. One day his wife asked him whether if she baked some bread, he'd take it someplace and sell it.

Needing a name for the nascent business, he remembered the Biblical story of Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's dreams about the years of feast and the years of famine. He thought of how Joseph stored up grain so that the famine would be survivable. So they named the business Joseph's Storehouse. Out of that, the restaurant and bakery were born.

(I learned later in the day that Patrick ran for mayor of San Antonio last year. And from Rising to the Top I learned that the denomination he left when he struck out on his own was the Baptist church, and that he's been leading services at Joseph's every Sunday since 9/11/01.) As the window makes plain, the restaurant/bakery doubles as a small church:

From what I've learned so far, I'm guessing Patrick and I have fairly divergent theologies. There's probably a lot on which we wouldn't agree. But watching Patrick at work -- taking orders behind the counter; moving throughout the restaurant, checking in with everyone he sees, saying hello and clasping hands and greeting people -- makes me realize the extent to which running a restaurant is about service. Not just "good service," as in "that restaurant has terrific waitstaff" -- but "good service" as in serving one's fellow man.

On my last visit to San Antonio, I got into a conversation with my oldest brother and my father about the best desserts in town. They agreed that the best chocolate cake in the city comes from Joseph's, and my dad brought a tiny one home in a plastic container for me to sample: thick, rich, slathered with frosting that tastes like homemade fudge. We'll have some of that cake on Friday, at my mother's birthday dinner. I'm kind of tickled that Joseph's is catering our Shabbat supper!

Anyway. Joseph's. I like it there. Good simple food, and a blessing for the road.

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