Robin Hood Restaurant in Spain Takes from the Rich to Feed the Poor
Homeless dine for free in Madrid.
Every morning, the popular Robin Hood restaurant in Madrid, Spain, opens its doors for breakfast. Fully booked throughout the whole day, it’s impossible to turn up without a reservation, and the restaurant shuts just after lunch. But before sunset, the place transforms.
Over two shifts in the evening, the restaurant serves free food to the homeless. The profits made during the day fund the food that’s put on the table at night.
The operation is run by 80-year-old Catholic priest Ángel García Rodriguez, known affectionately in the community as “Padre Ángel." He is the founder of nonprofit organization called Messengers of Peace, a group that, in addition to the restaurant, employs 3,900 people to run social services in Spain that support the elderly, orphans, and drug addicts. With over 5,000 volunteers, it runs projects abroad in 50 developing countries too.
The restaurant is open 24 hours a day, offering free coffee, shelter, and space for guests to sleep outside of serving hours. It feeds over 100 people every night, and after already attracting merry men (and women) from work in nearby luxury hotels, plans are in the works to involve celebrity chefs to offer an even more special service once a week.
According to an NPR report, the rules of the restaurant are simple. WiFi is free for anybody to use, a mobile phone is available to make calls, and singing is permitted so long as it does not disturb other customers. NPR’s reporter, Lauren Freyer, recorded her experience there in a podcast for All Things Considered.
Spain is in dire need of such active, practical compassion. It's a country rocked by the financial crisis, with one in five people out of work. Almost half of all young people are unemployed.
"I want them to eat with the same dignity as any other customer," Father Ángel told NPR. "And the same quality, with glasses made of crystal, not plastic, and in an atmosphere of friendship and conversation."
To differ in strategy from its heroic English namesake, the rich do not need to be robbed to feed the poor in Madrid. They pay willingly, and in droves. It costs $11.80 to order anything from a fixed cost menu, and reservations are completely booked out for the next two months. So be prepared to wait in line!
In total, Father Ángel runs four Robin Hood restaurants in Madrid, with three new branches opening in the past month. But he is hoping to take the brand even further, with talks ongoing to open another Robin Hood in Miami, Florida — effectively, he’s going global. A perfect example of faith fulfilled without discrimination, Father Angel is reshaping society by feeding the poor wherever he finds them.