Decked out with brass chandeliers, luscious red tablecloths, and crystal drinking glasses, Madrid’s new Robin Hood restaurants, founded by Rev. ngel Garca Rodriguez, seemstrikingly similar to other eateries citywide.
You know, except for the fact that theyfeed theirdinner patrons every night free of charge…
80-year-old Catholic priest, ngel Garca Rodriguez…known by most as Father ngel…has spent his career devising innovative ways to better help those in need.
As acting President ofMessengers of Peace, Father ngel oversees a team of 3,900 employees and 5,000 volunteers who staff orphanages, senior homes, addictiontreatment centers, and additional social services.
While these efforts have certainly benefitted the country’s most vulnerablecitizens, many Spaniards continue suffering from the effects of the country’srelentless lingeringeconomic crisis.
Spain’s unemployment rates unfortunately keep climbing, a truth which recently prompted Father ngel to get even more creative with his social service strategies.
Father ngel began searching for a way his team could provide what he began realizing the homeless really craved…dignity.
And so, his Robin Hood restaurants were born.
Now, with four active locations, Father ngel’s Robin Hood restaurants charge paying customers for breakfast and lunch, and then use revenue from those sales to fund two rounds of free dinner service for the homeless each night.
To get served by a waiter wearing a nice uniform and to eat with proper cutlery,” Father ngel told The New York Times, “rather than a plastic fork, is what gives you back some dignity.
As forty-one-year-old Gian Parlafes, a Romanian who’s lived in Spain for over ten years and recently fell on hard times put it, its just hard to believe I get to sit and eat here without paying any money whatsoever. You reach a point when something like this just makes you feel incredible.
Now, a lunch reservation at one of the four active Robin Hood restaurants is one of the hardest reservations to land in Spain.
In fact, paying-customer reservations are currently booked up through March.
Celebrity chefs from near and far are clamoring to volunteer themselves for kitchen shifts.
Chefs from nearby luxury hotels have also left those jobs in droves to work in Robin Hood’s kitchensinstead.
These restaurants are not Father ngel’s first out-of-the-box answer for righting his community’s social injustices.
Last year, he converted an abandoned church, San Antn, into essentially a community center/church now open 24/7.
Thousands of folks flow through San Antn on a daily basis. The center offers its guests free, unlimited Wifi access, food, television, the chance to consultwith medical volunteers, use restrooms, and more.
While many come simplyfor these amenities or refuge from the outside world, the church does holddaily Mass.