Paying it forward

paying it forward.jpg
Photo: Jay Ouellet

The Belle View Restaurant in Belle Côte, Cape Breton, continues paying it forward. Roddie now uses the photo I took of his restaurant for his website, Facebook page and for postcards. 

While on holidays in Belle Côte, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, this past week, we walked into the Belle View Restaurant for breakfast. 

The place was full. Veteran waitress Rosella was alone on the floor and had more customers than she could handle. Most of them were still waiting to order. I got up, went behind the counter and asked Rosella if I could give her a hand, at least start by pouring coffee. She replied, “I would love that!” So I served coffee, tea and a few plates of bacon and eggs. Understandably, I was the last to have my order taken, which was fine by me. 

Okay, here is when the fun stuff started…. As we waited for our food, other people who had finished started to leave. Rosella comes to me and says, “That couple who just left, they paid for your breakfast.” What??? 

I ran outside and caught up to them just as they were pulling out of the parking lot. I said, “Thanks, but why?” They said, “We’re just ‘paying it forward,’ like in the movie.”   

Back in the restaurant, one by one, the customers came up and said “thank you” as they left. When it was time for us to leave, Rosella asked if we were staying in the area for a few days. I said, “Yes, one more day.” She said, “Great, breakfast is on us tomorrow!” When we walked into the restaurant the next morning, it was obvious that everyone – staff and regulars – had heard the story. Word had quickly spread around the little village. People were looking at me, saying “Hi” and “Thank you.” It was crazy, like something out of the Twilight Zone. 

Now for the kicker. Two nights earlier, I had been speaking with Belle View Restaurant owner Roddie MacLennan while ordering a take-out pizza. He had worked 17 years in his own restaurant in Fort McMurray, Alberta. He sold it, and then came back home to Cape Breton. 

Then MacLennan met a man who had founded a Catholic church organization called Chalice, which offers help and time to needy countries, particularly to give children the chance to go to school and learn. So Roddie went and spent time in Brazil, Peru, etc. He then decided to open another restaurant here in his home town, and give 10% of the profits to Chalice. In his own words, “My life has been good, now I want to pay it forward!”  

The next day, his customers said the same to me. And so did Rosella. And so the chain continues. 

A simple gesture and a few kind words can go a long way.