A Lesson From My Favorite Restaurant

Lessons from my favorite restaurant . . . Mary Etta’s

Mary Etta’s is a podunk little place off Old Hwy 8 in the Eastern part of San Diego county. During your first visit you’ll wonder why it hasn’t dried up and blown away with the tumbleweeds years ago. They obviously haven’t done anything to stay current or keep up with the times. 

  • They are only open from 6am-2pm each day.
  • They are located in the middle of no where in East County.
  • Their business sign is teensy, you’ll only find it if you stop and look.
  • Their decor consists of handmade wooden plaques, bad fishing jokes, old cowboy prints and a road kill sign.
  • They have 4 booths, that will seat 4 people each and counter seating for 6.
  • None of the plates or silverware match. 
  • They have no customer loyalty cards & no daily specials
  • They haven’t revised their menu since the 1960’s

Yet, if you stop by on any day of the week the place is hopping. From open to close, the booths are full, the counter stools are occupied and the cook is busy filling orders. 

So what’s the secret model of success for this backwards little restaurant? 

Mary Etta’s consistently offers it’s patrons, fairly-priced, large portioned, delicious, quality, home-cooked meals.

That’s it. The one thing they have always focused on, the one thing they do really well:
Serve Great Food.


Sometimes, in ministry, I wonder if we’ve gotten too caught up in the “ideal model for success” that includes fancy buildings, great locations, effective marketing, professional signage, custom logos, reward bucks and the latest and greatest programming.

Could we, would we, be successful at reaching people and transforming lives if we let all that go and did one thing really well?
Teach the Bible