They talk about politics, the weather, their families and anything else that comes to mind.
“But what we really do here is solve the world’s problems,” said Wayne Watkins Friday morning as he sat down to breakfast with his ROMEOs.
ROMEO, an acronym for Retired Old Men Eating Out, is a group of local Vietnam veterans that get together each Friday morning at Billie’s Country Kitchen for comraderie, conversation and a great meal.
“This is the only place I get to eat bacon,” said veteran Gary Pichon, a Dawson County commissioner. “At home I have to eat the healthy stuff.”
The local group of ROMEOs has been meeting for about three years, starting out with only three men meeting occasionally at Waffle House.
“We’d say, ‘Hey want to meet at Waffle House tomorrow,’ and then we’d just show up,” Watkins said.
After a few months, the small group grew and eventually had to move to a larger restaurant.
“We went to IHOP, but putting 15 or 16 of us in among the rest of the customers was hard on them. Sometimes when we all get talking, we get pretty loud,” Watkins said.
Several weeks ago, the group decided to meet at Billie’s on Hwy. 9 North and plan to stay for as long as the owners will let them.
“We love having them here,” said owners James and Michelle Teeple.
And the ROMEOs love the warm welcome they receive each Friday morning.
“They’ve hung up some veteran pictures on the wall,” veteran Gunny Moore said, pointing to a nearby display. “They reserve the back room for us and have the tables ready for us when we get here.”
In return, the ROMEOs presented Billie’s with a plaque of gratitude, which hangs on a post at the front door.
Last week, 19 members met for breakfast, and like they predicted, they got a little loud.
“But it doesn’t bother anybody here. The other customers don’t mind us too much,” Watkins said.
After all, one member said, how could other customers mind a group of men that get together on Friday morning with the intention of solving the world’s problems?
The local group’s most recent discussions have centered on healthcare reform, the water issue and the need to put a Republican back into the White House.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.