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This priest not only feeds the homeless, he does so in style


©Elizabeth Scalia

John Burger - published on 01/26/17

Breakfast and lunch patrons at the Robin Hood Restaurant in Madrid fund elegant dinners for the homeless

For the homeless of Spain’s capital, an angel is relieving them of at least one worry—where to find a decent meal.

It’s more than decent, actually, and that’s the whole point. Father Ángel García Rodriguez wants not only to see that the destitute get something to eat, but to eat with the same sort of dignity that other residents of Madrid enjoy.

Padre Angel/ Photo: H. Fraile, JCCM - CC
Photo: H. Fraile // JCCM - CC

Padre Angel/ Photo: H. Fraile, JCCM - CC

That’s why he opened the Robin Hood Restaurant downtown late last year. In the spirit of its namesake, the restaurant charges regular patrons for breakfast and lunch, and then opens up to the homeless for dinner, which is served for free.

“I want them to eat with the same dignity as any other customer,” Father Rodriguez, known locally as Padre Ángel, told National Public Radio. “And the same quality, with glasses made of crystal, not plastic, and in an atmosphere of friendship and conversation.”

It’s become Spain’s most sought-after lunch reservation. The restaurant has poached staff from luxury hotels. Celebrity chefs are lining up to cook once a week. For paying clients, the lunch is fully booked through the end of March.

As founder of Messengers of Peace, a local charity, Padre Ángel, 80, has converted an abandoned church nearby into a community center, NPR noted. It’s the only church in Madrid that’s open 24 hours a day — with free coffee, television and places for patrons to sleep. Padre Ángel or a colleague offers Mass there daily.

And in the evening, the Robin Hood Restaurant feeds more than 100 needy people, in two shifts.

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