By Emilie Ng
STEAK paired with a good red wine will cost 10 per cent less for Oratory priest Fr Paul Chandler whenever he visits Brisbane’s Norman Hotel.
Under the restaurant and bar’s new owner, Catholic businessman James Power, religious men and women will get a 10 per cent discount on any meals bought at Brisbane’s “worst vegetarian restaurant”.
Mr Power, whose family operated Queensland pubs in the 1980s, finalised the Norman Hotel’s purchase in April.
He decided his first business order would be introducing discounts for clergy and consecrated men and women.
“It’s a small gesture by us to recognise the tremendous work the religious in the archdiocese do, and to reaffirm them at a time when there is not a lot of that going on,” Mr Power said.
The Norman Hotel staff have already been prepared for an increase of clerical collars, habits and religious congregational medals at the restaurant.
“It’s normalising these concepts which in today’s secular world become foreign or unusual,” Mr Power said.
The restaurant has already served a number of priests over the years, including Oratory priest Fr Adrian Sharp, whose name is listed as a two-time winner of the one-kilogram steak challenge.
“I want people of faith to feel comfortable coming here,” Mr Power said.
“Priests and religious and all Catholics should feel free to say grace before meals in public places, and priests should feel comfortable walking in in their collars.
“I’d love to think that tradition could be understood and respected.”
Fr Chandler believes the generous discount is a sign of one layman’s gratitude to Catholic religious.
“It made me feel really good because it gives you a sense of affirmation, that a particular business, and a particular owner in James, appreciates what we do,” he said.
While the economical benefits for priests and men and women religious, who sacrificed an ordinary wage, were a given, Fr Chandler said the discounted dinners also helped “rebuild Catholic culture”.
“It’s enabling Catholics, in this case priests and religious, to not be ashamed to come out and be in public areas, but also it’s enabling families to come out and be Catholic in the public sphere,” Fr Chandler said.