I visited the Talkeetna Roadhose in Talkeetna, Alaska. “Talkeetna Roadhouse: Lodging, Meals & Bakery”, a place of good food from a unique menu and culture. After you realize the nature of the seating protocol, by either inquiring or reading the chalkboard, you walk in and must navigate the busy, tourist-filled space to a table of your own choosing with complete strangers. The table we sat at could seat about 14 people!
It’s tourist season which, for locals means, be ready to engage or be ready to be anti-social. There really isn’t much of an in-between. The table was full of older travelers from outside Alaska, but we happened to sit directly across from a couple from Willow, AK. Willow is just an hour from quaint Talkeetna.
I wasn’t feeling especially social but enjoyed the simple and polite exchange we had. I considered the culture of the Talkeetna Roadhouse to be a wonderful part of its’ business model: making community non-negotiable. It’s family-like living area contributed to the special “feel” of the place; the couches, the piano, rooms for lodging, large tables for meals; walk in and sit on your own accord. It felt like a place I could stay for a long while, curiously enjoying the presence of bright strangers. This is a place that fosters community under an old-school roof in a way that we all have a distant memory of. The space fits perfectly with the easy-going, small-town beauty of Talkeetna.
I left feeling like the culture of the Talkeetna Roadhouse was beneficial for me, my fellow-diners and, perhaps, all of humanity. To sit and eat with random people is an opportunity to understand the blessing of diversity, conquer social fears, practice public speaking and general personal development.
Leaders should do this well. They should be ready to engage and care about those across from and next to them through the simple energy of curiosity.