INMAN — Inman Harvest Cafe, located at 112 S. Main St. in Inman, brings family-style seating to the next level.
Owners Nick and Katy Reinecker do their best to make sure anyone eating alone won't feel alone in their restaurant.
"If they're consistently alone and they're always by themselves, either (waitress) Polly or I will sometimes say, 'Come sit here at the family table.' Because even if there's no one else sitting at it, the locals gravitate toward it, so it won't be long before there's someone else sitting here," Katy Reinecker said. "We have a sign up that says free-range seating and I'm serious because they move. The tables are all numbered and Polly will write on the ticket whatever number it is and there isn't anybody sitting there so I kind of have to yell, 'Whose food is this.'"
Although some may be strangers to the family table, the locals include everyone Katy Reinecker added, as she demonstrated how they pick up their chairs to make room for them.
"Even if it's full, they'll pick up their chairs and hop and we'll pull chairs from the back area. It just gets bigger and bigger. Even if you come here alone, you're only alone until you get here," Katy Reinecker said.
The round family-style table is located in the back corner of the restaurant, next to the kitchen.
"Even if there's no one else coming in, the kitchen is right here and Polly is right there in the food pick up area. It's easy to have a conversation with a person if they're alone. I can talk to them from the kitchen or Polly talks to them, so it's easy to include them. We always encourage them to sit there," Katy Reinecker explained.
Even toward the end of the night when shifts are finished and the restaurant is winding down, the staff will also gather around the family table.
"I think it's tradition. All the us workers at the end of the night will sit here and eat together before we get everything cleaned up," Nick Reinecker noted.
While celebrating 10 years of business, the couple takes time to remember the loyal customers who are no longer present by hanging a picture on their family table picture board near the table.
“It's remarkable how many we've lost in those 10 years — they were regulars at the family table. That's the hardest part for me is when we lose someone. It's a small town, we know them we know their family. If they live alone and their family isn't around here, we go and check on them if they don't show up for a couple of days," Katy Reinecker said holding back tears. "That's the hardest part — it's kind of like a ghost a little bit, you know — I still see them sitting where they should be at and they're not there. That's the worst part of the 10 years."
Having a sense of community and family are something the Reineckers strive for in their cafe, which often draws the locals in every day.
"These people could be sitting at home in their Laz-y-Boy's watching old re-runs of Lawrence Welk or something. But this is a place where they can come and fellowship while drinking coffee together and have a nice time. This is sort of basic community service, if you will. Seeing the joy of every generation — money can't buy that," Nick Reinecker said.
If someone is new to the cafe, Katy Reinecker said it doesn't take long until they’re included into the family.
"If you come back multiple times, it doesn't take long until you're a member," Katy Reinecker said.
For more information, call 620-585-6925 or visit their website at http://inmanharvestcafe.com or visit their Facebook page.
Contact Brooke Haas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.