Rachel Shenk said thank you Sunday night.
She invited her customers to the annual appreciation event, and then she and her staff fed them. For free.
Shenk operates Rachel’s Bread with her husband, Jim, at 211 W. Washington St., Goshen. She was celebrating her 20th anniversary of operating Rachel’s Bread, so she declared that the theme was “black and white.”
Customers showed up, some in formal wear, some in their best approximation of it.
Shenk, who writes the La Bonne Vie column for Flavor 574 and The Elkhart Truth, operates the European bakery that recalls her childhood in Belgium. It’s one of the busiest spots in Goshen on Saturday mornings. (She and Jim also follow the European tradition of closing for vacation when they go away, so customers sometimes arrive to find the business closed.)
Once a year, she invites customers to come for a free meal and the event has grown over the years. This year, several hundred (perhaps as many as 500) gathered. Shenk urged them to stand and talk as if at a cocktail party. There was a bit of wine, but mostly people focused on the cheeses, spreads and small bites that Shenk and her staff served.
She has said in the past this is her way of building community, her way of saying thanks. The relationship she has with her customers is as deep and true as you can find in the restaurant business.
To hear more from Shenk, watch this video that’s part of the Good of Goshen marketing campaign.