Soul food

How do you make a 600-seat cafe feel like home? You put Dolores Pierre on the floor as an “attendant” and she immediately transforms the large public space.

Dolores Dolores is the smiling face so many of our visitors have met and taken the time to comment about. One thing I know from reading visitor comment cards is that people are quick to criticize and make suggestions, but it is rare for them to take the time to give a compliment. But that is what Dolores inspires people to do. 

Visitors, or “guests to her dining room” as Dolores likes to think of them, often enter the Stars and Stripes Cafe tired, grumpy, and simply in search of food. Dolores gives them that priceless something extra. It might be as simple as a high chair or glass of water. Other times it is advice about exhibits, other museums, or the Metro. Everyone she meets gets a piece of her heart and a smile. “My mother told me my heart is my weakness and my strength. Making others happy makes me happy.”

People know they are going to learn something when they visit the museum. They’re happily surprised when they learn what a difference one person can make.

Kathy Sklar is the business program manager at the National Museum of American History.