Customers who pause to thank God before eating meals at a North Carolina diner might be in for a major surprise when they pay their bill: a 15 percent discount for "praying in public."
Mary Haglund, owner of Mary's Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, confirmed the price reduction in an interview with TheBlaze Friday, noting that she's been offering it for the past four years without much fanfare.
"For me, every plate of food is a gift," she explained. "And I never take that for granted and when I see someone in a restaurant honoring their gratefulness at my table ... it touches my heart."
A screen shot from Mary's Gourmet Diner (Image source: MarysGourmetDiner.net)
Haglund, 60, said that the "gift" she gives customers has nothing to do with a specific religious perspective, that she never advertises the discount and that it's something staffers sporadically offer only when they feel compelled to do so.
"It's just a moment or faithfulness about the plate of food," she said. "It's not even a policy — it's [something] we only do when we're moved to do it."
Haglund also noted that wait staff who are uncomfortable or who don't agree with the message behind the discount aren't forced to give it.
"We are so fortunate in this country," she added.
Haglund, the daughter of a preacher and missionary, said that she lived in the Philippines as a teenager where she saw true need. Noting that she fell away from her faith as she grew older, Haglund still describes herself as a spiritual person who believes in a higher power.
News of the restaurant's prayer "gift" spread this week after a woman named Jordan Smith visited Mary's Gourmet Diner with coworkers and prayed over her meal. The customer later posted her receipt on Facebook, according to HLN.
"[We] prayed over our meal and the waitress came over at the end of the meal and said, 'Just so you know, we gave you a 15% discount for praying,' which I'd never seen before," Smith told the outlet.
The receipt made its way onto Z88.3 radio's Facebook page in Orlando, where it captured the attention of thousands of individuals who both "liked" and shared it on the social network.
Smith told HLN that she's surprised by how quickly the photo spread online.
"I just innocently posted it to my Facebook page and it's been really fun to see where it's gone from there," she said.