Editor’s Note: I wrote this for Thanksgiving in 2015. Well, a version of it. I try to limit my columns to 800 words. The original of this one was almost 1,100. It was bloated. Just like me after Thanksgiving dinner. The following is a trim 767 words. Think of it as Thanksgiving dinner with no rolls, no pumpkin pie and only one helping of mashed potatoes.

Danielle McGrogan had me at “grateful.”

“We’re grateful for your business,” she said as I paid the tab the first time I ate at Nucleus, the little, unassuming raw food cafe on Main Street in Luzerne, and the word “grateful” bounced around in my head for days.

“Grateful” is much richer than “thank you.”

“Thank you” is overused. It’s so rote, so automatic, it’s become almost meaningless. Not “grateful.” “Grateful” has character. “Grateful” says something.

Every time I went back to Nucleus I was told the same thing in the same way: “We are grateful for your business.” And every time I left, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I have to write about this, I concluded.

And I did, three years later.

While not a month had gone by that I did not think about Danielle and Nucleus and their gratefulness, and while I’d returned often to sample their unique menu items, and while I’d mentioned their use of the word “grateful” to friends, family and students, and made a conscious effort to work it into my own vocabulary, I’d never gotten around to developing it into a column.

I cannot say why, except, I suppose, that column ideas, like seeds, take time to germinate. As Thanksgiving approached, the word “grateful” seemed ready to bloom.

“It needs to be said,” Danielle told me as we sat in Nucleus one afternoon, just after the lunchtime rush. “We are grateful for your business. But it’s deeper than that. We are grateful for you, for your existence as a fellow human being.”

She said new employees typically are uncomfortable when they find out they are required to say this. “They struggle at first,” Danielle said. “But we tell them it’s essential if you want to work here. We are truly grateful for that human across the counter. One day a customer said, ‘You don’t have to say that,’ and I responded, ‘You don’t understand, we really are grateful.’”

It spreads, Danielle said. “A lot of customers tell us they find themselves using ‘grateful’ in their everyday conversations.”

Grateful is much more than a word, Danielle said. It’s a way of life.

Danielle knows exactly when this way of life began for her.

“I ‘went raw’ on October 31, 2011,” she said. “I was a drunk on a bar stool and I made a conscious decision to change my life. The funny thing is, I had no intention to stop drinking. My intent was to stop visiting doctors.”

So she chose to start eating a diet of raw foods.

“Becoming a vegetarian wasn’t going to do it,” she said. “Neither was vegan. I needed something more radical.”

And with that, the first domino was clicked. Quitting alcohol soon followed. Along with turning off the television.

“I was not happy and I realized it was because I was so far away from who I needed to be,” she said. “I was making the mistake of trying to fix myself from the outside in, not from the inside out. I decided it was time to start taking care of myself. It was a personal responsibility thing.”

Her attempts to eat raw foods led Danielle to identify a gap in the market, and Nucleus was born. She first considered a food truck utilizing a 1971 VW bus she had acquired, but then settled on her current location in Luzerne. The doors of the restaurant opened on Feb. 21, 2014.

“It was risky,” she said. “I actually needed to create a market for what I was selling and I had a budget of just $12,000 to do it.”

“But I had faith,” she added. “This is God’s work. It’s about helping people and helping people is what we were created to do.”

It’s beyond the food, which Danielle describes as “raw, vegan, organic, gluten free and soy free.” It’s spiritual. “We have to give people what we’ve got,” she said. “And that’s not just things.”

Danielle wants to share what she’s learned. What she’s learned the “hard way,” she said.

“You can only fail so many times trying to control things before you learn you have to humble up,” she said. “You have to learn you are not the one in control.”

That means getting your ego out of the way, Danielle emphasized.

“The more I am worried about my ego, the less I can help others,” she said.

As we talked, I looked around Nucleus, taking everything in. “The very walls of this place scream grateful,” I said to Danielle.

She just smiled. Content, it appeared, to let her walls do the talking.

Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.

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