When Augusta-area pediatrician Alan Getts finishes treating his young patients, he and wife, Becky, like to grab a bite to eat.
After they order, they do what they do at home - they bow their heads and pray.
God has done so much for them, they want to take every opportunity to give thanks, Mrs. Getts said. "Why leave out the meal?"
Giving thanks as Jesus did at the Last Supper in Matthew 26:26 recognizes God as provider, said the Rev. Ron Fearneyhough, pastor of Gracewood United Methodist Church. "Gratitude is an expression of humility and thankfulness."
Chuck Baldwin, owner of the French Market Grille, said he remembers a time when it was very unusual for restaurant patrons to go public with a blessing.
People aren't self-conscious about it today - and that is fine with him, he said.
He started in the restaurant business 25 years ago. Even then he recalls a server stopping by a table praying with some people giving thanks, he said. "Saying grace is more accepted in the Bible Belt."
Though she hasn't done it herself, Marsha Dusharm said she has friends who will ask a server to pray with them or who will offer to pray for a server's needs.
"I'd like to believe that anybody who is a Christian and practicing would pray before meals at home or in a restaurant," she said.
Saying grace is such an important part of believers' lives, why should anyone feel embarrassed?, Nan Beaudreau said.
She and husband, Gary, a dentist, grew up saying grace at home but decided when they married they would do the same in restaurants, she said. "It is not a big production."
The gesture came out of a desire to make Christ the center of their family, she said. "There's no reason not to do it in public."
Customers often sit down and say grace after picking up their orders from the counter at Edmunds' Bar-B-Que and Catering in Martinez, said owner Cleve Edmunds.
"It has been pretty much a constant at our place" since it opened 25 years ago, he said. "We are a family-type restaurant. We see more of it in our type of operation than in fast-food service."
About 20 percent of patrons at Luigi's Italian Restaurant say grace, said Penelope Ballas-Stewart, a manager. She represents the third generation in the family-owned business on Broad Street.
Though she notices it less among patrons during Masters Week, "I do see people (praying) pretty often," she said.
Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.