Some people might call Ritzy Lunch an old hotdog joint, while others may label it a dive.
It’s not fancy enough for some, and too old fashioned for others.
Ritzy Lunch is clean, but its tiles, walls, and clock are stained from years and years of patrons, and cooks, puffing away on their favorite smoke. Of course, smoking isn’t allowed any longer, but 70 years or so of nicotine haze has given the place a special look you don’t get anywhere else.
I realize I’m just one guy, and my opinion may not mean anything to you, but there’s something very special about Ritzy Lunch.
To me, it’s an experience that’s worth the drive.
Though we live in Iowa, we make regular visits to West Virginia. We spend time relaxing at North Bend State Park, in the Harrisville vicinity, and visit family who live about a half hour away.
A tradition has developed over the last 7-8 years, one that I can blame (or thank) my brother-in-law for. We make the trip to Ritzy (about a 45 minute drive from his house) one time during our W.Va. visit.
What do we have to eat? Two hotdogs in steamed buns, chili, onion, cayenne pepper, and french fries, served in a plastic basket. Add a Diet Coke, and we are set for the hour.
The first time I visited Ritzy, its owner, Hotdog John, came by the old wooden booth we were seated in and began jabbering about his hotdog chili. I had already been warned not to call it “sauce”, but I didn’t know his feelings about mustard.
So when he heard me order 2 dogs with chili, onion, and NO MUSTARD, you’d have thought I had just hit him below the belt!
“What?! You can’t do that!”
After he finished razzing me a while he winked, thanked me for coming in, and walked over to the next booth to give his other patrons the same friendly service.
People have been dining at Ritzy Lunch for 82 years; a family owned and operated business in downtown Clarksburg, West Virginia. Easy to find, on Pike Street, just a few blocks off of US Highway 50.
Remember that old television commercial for Master Card? It went something like this:
Hotdogs (2), Fries, all the fixings – $7
Downtown Parking Meters – $1 for a few hours
The whole Ritzy Lunch experience – PRICELESS!
Sure, a person may POSSIBLY find a hotdog that compares with a Ritzy Lunch dog. And perhaps the fries are like the ones found in other restaurants.
But you will NEVER find anything else that compares to the Ritzy Lunch experience. The ambience, the friendly service, the old counter and wooden stools, cayenne pepper shakers; I’m talking atmosphere!
While I was preparing to write this blog, I started thinking about the similarities between the Ritzy Lunch experience and the Kingdom of God.
As I’ve mentioned, fancy isn’t a word that describes Ritzy. But it IS a place where everyone is accepted and appreciated.
So with the Kingdom of God.
The ONLY requirement to enter the Kingdom of God is you and I must enter through the door. Anyone who goes through the door is welcomed and fed.
I’d like to see more churches with the atmosphere; the warm, welcoming atmosphere found at Ritzy Lunch.
The door to Ritzy informs those interested in the Ritzy Lunch experience the hours of operation and the need to wear a shirt and shoes.
Jesus is the door to the Kingdom of God, and He has stated His requirements in the gospel of John (not to be confused with Hotdog John).
“So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.'” (John 10:7-10 ESV)
Another couple of passages from John, only these are from his first letter.
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:15-16 ESV)
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12 ESV)
A person may stand on the sidewalk, there on Pike Street and look through Ritzy Lunch’s window for hours, but never experience what I’ve been writing about.
You see, to thoroughly understand the Ritzy Lunch experience, one must open AND walk through the door.
It’s the same way with God and His Kingdom. Going to church, reading the bible, and telling everyone what you’ve heard and read is all very nice. But you must go through the door to experience the Kingdom and eternal life.
And Jesus is the Door.
Please take a few moments to read the newspaper article I photographed and posted below. It gives the history of one of Clarksburg’s finest. More than a hotdog joint, more than a quaint, downtown diner; it’s the Ritzy Lunch experience!
While you’re at it, please read more of the Apostle John’s writings, especially John chapter ten. It provides you with the incentive and the necessary information on how to enter the Kingdom of God.
And if you’re ever in the Clarksburg area, make sure you plan a trip for a true, Ritzy Lunch experience.
And tell them Jan sent you!