From the ruins of Coventry Cathedral rises what can only be described as an oasis in the desert.
This quaint post-war themed cafe restaurant run by Betel, a UK charity, left me with a wide grin on my face which hasn’t gone away in the entire two hours I’ve spent here.
Allow me to set the scene. I am the first customer of the day. I arrive ten minutes before opening to get some good pictures. I had the right idea because not a quarter hour after my arrival, the place was packed. Joyful customers came in droves to experience this unique cafe.
Shelves made from old suitcases; war memorabilia strewn on every visible surface; old advertisements framed on the walls. Lining the dining area are several beautifully maintained Chesterfield leather chairs. The chairs in the central eating area are upholstered with pink and white polka dot fabric, adding to the positive feel of the cafe.
I am welcomed by an eight-year-old boy “chiselling” away at the oak bar top with a screwdriver. As soon as his eyes alight on me, he asks if I’d like a menu. It became clear to me that this must have been the manager’s son on his Christmas holidays, coming to help his mother out. I must say, he makes a top grade waiter. He greeted other customers and handed them menus as they walked in. It was extraordinary.
One doesn’t often see such enterprising young men. Nor does one often see such professionalism from volunteers. Rising Cafe is run entirely by volunteers. One of the waitresses explained to me that they had all come from “broken paths” and found salvation through Christ and the Church. We are often quick to dismiss the faithful in modern times but this is a mistake, to my mind. One of my flatmates is an ardent follower of Christ, as were about half of the population of Tanzania when I volunteered there last summer. I’ve not since seen such contented and fulfilled people.
To see the positive change that moderate Christianity brings people inspires me with hope. Dara O’Brien once joked that one could not leave the Catholic faith. One could join ISIS and still be Catholic, one would simply be a bad Catholic.
A feeling of family and togetherness resonates in this cafe. Upon entering one feels at once included. I drank an excellent double espresso before ordering my breakfast, pictured below.
That’s right, I ate an enormous hamburger for breakfast. The Original Burger, to be exact. Described as “A classic burger recipe that originates from before the war, using steamed onions and mustard powder.” My friends, it was superb.
I also sampled the confusingly named “hand pie”; a puff pastry topped with (on this occasion) with pulled pork and chorizo with cheddar. That too was a tasty treat.
All round, this cafe ticked all the boxes. The staff are friendly; the location is perfect; the food is excellent and the message is positive.
I would advise you to reserve beforehand, however.