SOLON– Old Gold Diner Site Manager Duane McAtee modestly called it a pretty good turnout.
The fellowship hall of the Solon United Methodist Church was dressed up for a fine dining experience as the Old Gold Diner served up a sit-down dinner for Valentine’s Day Friday, Feb. 14.
Red tablecloths, red and white roses on every table, a Valentine’s Day bunting across the front of the hall, live music and a meal of prime rib, roasted asparagus and cheesecake awaited a capacity crowd.
And after the meal, couples were invited into the sanctuary to join McAtee and his wife Anna in a renewal of wedding vows performed by the Rev. Scott Keele Kober.
According to McAtee, 94 meals were served, although a few of those were home-delivered.
“We’ve been planning for about a month,” McAtee said of the event. But while the events was promoted and reservations taken, the details were withheld.
“They didn’t know the entertainment or the menu,” McAtee explained. “It takes a leap of faith to sign up for a meal when you don’t know what you’re getting.”
Over 80 ended up attending, greeted at the door with a program outlining the agenda for the hour.
“My wife and I really enjoyed the Valentine Day meal provided for seniors at Old Gold Dining,” noted Larry Meister, who attended with his wife Dee. “Site manager Duane McAtee and his helpers surprised everyone who attended with a beautifully decorated room, music and a surprise menu that included delicious prime rib. This provided seniors a place to gather for a wonderful experience.”
Music was provided by Methodist Church director of music Julia Andrews, and by Lilly McAtee and Jenna Roskoph under the direction of high school vocal music director Joel Foreman.
The prime rib meal was catered by the Solon Retirement Village, which has been providing meals for the senior dining meal site since the beginning of the year. “They have been excellent,” McAtee said of the care facility and its meals.
It took a lot of work for about a dozen volunteers to make it all happen, McAtee said. Shery Haight, Renee Masters and Jessie Trepanier dressed the fellowship hall for the meal, which was served plated at the table instead of in a serving line like regular Old Gold Diner lunches.
“Every senior that I talked to were amazed and as pleased as I was at the Valentine’s Day special Old Gold Dining meal,” said Sandy Hanson, a strong advocate for providing programming for older residents.
The longest-married husband and wife– Bobbie and Ray Travis of Western– were honored, and seven couples renewed their vows in a brief ceremony following the meal.
“I was really kind of scared,” McAtee said, noting the renewal was something he and his wife do every five years or so. “Are we going to be the only ones up there?”
They were not.
“We were one of the couples who took advantage of the ceremony,” Meister said. “What a wonderful day to remember. From the smiles and laughter in the dining room, you could tell everyone was enjoying the experience. We hope this will be a yearly event for our community.”