Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caritas Village

Caritas Village
2509 Harvard Ave
(901) 327-5246

The monkeys (Satchel, 6, and Jiro, 4) and I were feeling antsy this afternoon and Warren was busy trying to study, so I instructed them to put their shoes on and join me for a walk. I decided we'd go by Caritas Village. Warren and I had lunch there last week, and loved it. They have food, games, meetings, activities, and great people. The monkeys had only been there to vote with us, and I wanted them to see it in its full glory. I thought we'd see if anything was going on, and at the very least, I'd get some coffee. I figured the boys could play with the toys and we might run into someone we know. (The monkeys went to school with the owner's grandson.)

The four block walk was fairly uneventful. We had a few safety lessons, spotted a turtle shell, and enjoyed the mild weather. As we approached Caritas, I wondered if it was actually open or not since there was only one car in the parking lot. I tentatively pulled the handle and was pleasantly surprised to have the door open.

Inside there was just one table full of people having a meeting of some sort and a small group of kids playing with the trains. The monkeys immediately ran over to the toys and began building Lego spaceships. I asked the woman behind the counter if they made iced coffee and she said, "I think so...let me try and remember. Just coffee and ice, right?"

I smiled and said, "Right."

"How about some flavoring?" she asked.

"Do you have vanilla?" I asked.

"Yes," she said as she got to work.

I looked at the menu, which changes daily, and asked the monkeys if they wanted anything. "What do they have?" asked Satchel.

"Vegetable soup, hamburgers..."

"I'll have a hamburger," he said. He hardly ever passes up an opportunity to have a hamburger.

Jiro came over and requested that I pick him up so he could see inside the pastry containers. "Can I have one of those?" he asked pointing to the cinnamon rolls.

"Sure," I said.

The woman behind the counter brought me my coffee and said, "I want you to taste it before I ring it up."

I took a sip and it was perfect. In fact, it was way better than any iced coffee I'd had in awhile.

"It's perfect," I said. "Thank you."

She smiled and then I ordered a hamburger (which came with the option of chips or soup as a side--I chose soup), a cinnamon roll, and two waters. "Do you want the roll heated?" she asked.

"Sure," I said.

"And do you want the waters with lids?" she asked showing me some coffee to-go cups she could use.

"Lids would be great," I said.

The woman behind the counter rang me up (a mere $7.25!) and told me to help myself to soup, which is kept in a nice big pot to the left of the counter, and then offered to help me carry our drinks and cinnamon roll to the table.

I got some soup and picked a spot near where the monkeys were playing. They were too involved to join me, so I decided to enjoy my coffee and soup and let them play. After awhile I regretted not bringing a book or a magazine. The monkeys could have easily entertained themselves.

Once the hamburger came out I figured Satchel would rush over, but he wasn't finished with his ship. Jiro joined me at the table and ate almost all of his yummy cinnamon roll. I tried to talk him into a few sips of soup, but he refused. "I want a Sprite," he said. Since I was in a good mood, I obliged him. ($1 for a can that is kept in a "help yourself" refrigerator.)

Satchel came over to look at his hamburger and requested that I put ketchup and pickles on it. Both of these items were on the plate, so I obliged him too. Before I could finish, he went back to playing and Jiro joined him. So I decided to eat half of the hamburger myself. It was quite large and I could tell by Satchel's behavior that he wasn't too hungry.

The hamburger was quite yummy in my opinion. And did I mention that it was big?

Satchel must have sensed that his meal was in danger because he finally came over and started eating. Once he started he didn't stop until his burger was gone. "That was better than Daddy's hamburgers!" he declared. (This is Satchel's highest compliment.)

Then he asked for a sip of my coffee. I told him he could have a sip if he tried the soup. (I had gotten a second bowl for him.) He took a few sips and said he liked it, but he didn't have anymore room in his tummy. I let him taste my coffee and he said, "Ew. That's not as good as the coffee you had yesterday."

I tried to think of what he was referring to...oh yes, the Sonic mocha chiller. "Yes, the coffee I had yesterday had ice cream in it," I said happy to have this coffee all to myself.

Satchel went back to the toy section, looked around, and then happily came over with Connect Four. "Want to play?" he asked.

"Sure," I said. I watched as he got it ready, with Jiro's assistance of course, and noticed that there were only three red coins. "Honey, I don't think we can play Connect Four with only three red pieces."

He counted and recounted the pieces to make sure there were really only three and then sadly packed the game back up. He walked over to the shelf and came back with Chess.

"Do you even know how to play Chess?" I asked.

"No, but we can pretend it is Checkers," he said.

"Ok," I agreed.

Satchel and Jiro set up the board, and then reset it, and then I joined them on the floor. We used the pawn instead of Checkers and it soon became clear that neither one of us was too sure on the rules. However, we knew more than Jiro and were able to keep him in check when he took over my turn. Satchel ended up beating us, which nearly had Jiro in tears. I told him to buck up and pick a new game. He chose Sorry. Satchel opted to watch as Jiro and I played. I soon realized that I remembered even less about Sorry than I did about Checkers. I let Jiro take advantage of this and beat me, which made him very happy.

Everyone was ready to go, so we cleaned up all of the Legos, carried our remaining dishes to the counter, and said good-bye to Onie, the owner, who had come in while we were playing.

Caritas Village is a lovely place to spend a few hours either alone, or with your family. Now that we've finally found that out firsthand, I expect we'll make it one of our regular stops. (Caritas Village is open everyday except Sunday, and serve food and coffee from 10am-8pm.)

Caritas Village on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

The food is very tasty, eating there is a benefit to the community. Do not go with a group larger than 4 people as they appear to cook their orders one at a time and not always in the order they were placed. I have never been at Caritas Village for less than an hour, so be prepared. The daily special is always a good choice, best at the beginning of the day. Best hamburger in Memphis. Salmon is a good choice too.

Matthew Lee said...

I'm a regular at Caritas and live just down the street. If you drive anywhere in Binghampton you'll see the hip signs around that say "Peace" and "Enjoy Life" or things like that- these were made at Caritas by local children I believe. There's always church groups and urban ministry types meeting there, and free yoga I believe as well as art lessons for kids. More info here: I like the soups in particular, and the daily specials are good depending on what you enjoy. The barbecue chicken is good, and the special comes with a free dessert. I go there to work on projects, and get away from my home office and art studio. I'm a professional artist and landscape painter.... more on me here: Caritas is definitely a place for doing good things in the world.

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