ROMEOs Gather in Murphy
“Chick-fil-A in Murphy” is an unexpected answer to the often-quoted Shakespearean query, “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” However, every Tues. morning at 7:15 a.m., tables full of ROMEOs can be found eating breakfast, drinking coffee and discussing a variety of topics.
ROMEO is an acronym for Retired Old Men Eating Out. The group was founded by Jim Sykora and Bob Hook when their Bible study teacher at Messiah Lutheran Church in Plano went on a summer vacation. Sykora and Hook had attended the men’s Bible study for over 15 years and decided they wanted to still get together even though their teacher was on vacation. The two met at a restaurant just to chat, other men from the church started joining them and the social group kept expanding. They met at a variety of local restaurants and two years ago they lighted on Chick-fil-A in Murphy and have been meeting there ever since.
Approximately 14 ROMEOs gather every Tuesday. Their ages range from 65 – 89 years old. ROMEOs are residents of Murphy, Sachse, Wylie, Lucas, Richardson, Garland, Plano, Rockwall and Dallas. They represent a variety of occupations in which they have retired from such as engineering, management, computer and communications, telecommunications, finance, school bus driver, pharmacist, security and military.
They start their meeting with a brief Bible devotional and table prayer and then they talk about whatever topics arise. Sample topics have included paying with cash vs. credit cards, what they drove when they were 17 years old, traffic in Texas (specifically the way some drivers see the posted speed limit as merely a suggestion), golf, past vs. current happenings and much more. Murphy resident, Gordon Hanson, said he enjoys being a ROMEO because of the friendliness of the group, “Everyone participates in the conversation.”
Answering the question, “What would you tell your 17-year-old self?” they replied with: Consider others before yourself. Always obey Christ. Think about how your actions will affect you later. Take good care of your physical health. Read the Bible more. Make better choices earlier on.
When warranted, they sign cards for ROMEOs in need. The cards circulating at the May 28 meeting were get well cards for two ROMEOs who had recently undergone surgery. Hook said, “I got a card that almost brought me to tears when I was in the process of putting my wife into memory care.” ROMEOs who can drive pick up those can’t to bring them to the Tuesday gatherings. Sykora and Doug Kendrick went to elementary school together in Ft. Worth. They both live in Rockwall and since Kendrick can’t drive, Sykora picks him up. Kendrick said he’s very appreciative of the opportunity to get out.
The ROMEOs are very thankful for the service they receive at Chick-fil-A. They particularly enjoy the fact that they get free coffee and it is brought to them at their table. Since Chick-fil-A staff are not allowed to accept tips, at Christmas time, the ROMEOs chipped in to buy staff members boxes of gourmet chocolate. The manager, Gabriela Gonzalez, voiced admiration for the ROMEOs, “They are so nice and very organized. We love them. They come in every Tuesday morning and it is a good way for us to start our day. They are good citizens of the community and we look forward to seeing them each week.”
If you are a ROMEO, you are invited to join the group any Tuesday. They are a non-denominational group and are ready to welcome you to the table.