The Magic of Rick Walker

About five years ago Rick and Linda Walker bought a window with a shelf in
it, a stove and a fridge and some opportunity. What they purchased was a
tiny cafe, tucked in between halls 1 and 2 at 80 Bradford St. What they’ve
done is transformed this tiny cafe into a culinary heart of a building
that’s full of non profit organizations doing good work all over Barrie.

Rick and “Lindy” (their cafe is called Lindy’s) continue to develop their
enterprise… they’ve added tables, taken on more space, increased their
menu, introduced newspaper sales, and a cash machine. Every time I stop by
for a “quickie” (that’s Rick’s answer to breakfast…kaiser bun with egg,
cheese and bacon) there’s something new.

Rick and Linda virtually live their business. They hold Christmas dinner
at Lindy’s for everyone in the building who works a night shift near
Christmas. They have buffet lunches to beat the band. In the time they’ve
been operating their little cafe, they’ve endeared themselves to everyone
at Barrie by the Bay.

But, here’s the best part.

I was lined up this week, ordering a sandwich for myself as I did a late
night work stint, and Rick gestured to a young woman who was wheeling off
from her place at the table and headed down the hall. She braked to toss a
bottle in the recycling bin and Rick’s arms moved quickly. She laughed and
moved her arms back. My face contorted into a question mark, I guess,
because Rick responded: “that’s sign language for ‘see you later, baby!'”

“You know sign language?” I asked.

“Yup. Do now.” And then Rick explained that often his customers at
Lindy’s are hearing impaired, clients of the Huronia Hearing Impaired
Society that’s in 80 Bradford and headed up by Peggy Norton Harris. Rick
said he felt terrible when people would approach him at the cafe, and had
to point, and gesture, and draw in order to place their food order. And he
felt really rude to have to grunt back, and smile aimlessly and hope they

So, like the young woman in the wheel chair, Rick toodled off to take sign
language classes. He quickly closed his mouth, opened his hands and arms
and told me he’s been in Barrie six years, and has been in the food service
business all his life. He asked if I wanted my coffee with cream or sugar.
He asked about toast. About sandwiches, and soft drinks, and soup.

He’s very conversant with his hands, fingers and arms. And, the first
hearing impaired customer who received the results of his training broke
into a wide grin, said Rick. Now all his hearing impaired customers are
delighted to have a food service facility that offers terrific food,
terrific service and the ability to communicate effectively.

I paid closer attention to Rick after he handed me my sandwich. I listened
to him connect to the next customer, ask about their day and whether they’d
had a shift change.

What a lesson in looking beyond yourself. What a lesson in customer service!

Thanks, Rick!