Restaurant owners take on pro-life mission

| September 23, 2010 | 0 Comments

Kathleen and Edward Gorman, opened Gorman’s Restaurant in Lake Elmo 30 years ago. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Even before patrons pull into the parking lot at Gorman’s Restaurant alongside a bustling stretch of Highway 5 in Lake Elmo, they get a taste of what the owners, Kathleen and Edward Gorman, stand for.

Planted in front of the restaurant are about 30 political campaign signs all with one thing in common — they promote pro-life candidates.

“People say, ‘Isn’t it a big risk to put those signs out in front of your business?’” Edward said.

He acknowledges that the restaurant has lost some customers, but gained others as a result.

“I think it’s a bigger risk not to say something,” said Edward, 58. “We have a busy highway, 30,000 cars a day. So when you’re given opportunities like that and you feel the way you do, I think it’s a mistake not to take it to the next level.

“Basically, what we’re doing with these signs out front is we’re helping people form their consciences,” he added. “We’re getting them to debate it and talk about it.”

On a mission

Since 1980, when the couple opened the restaurant known for its malts and home-style American classics, their own three children, nieces and nephews, and countless area teenagers have landed their first job at Gorman’s flipping burgers or taking orders.

The Gormans have used the opportunity to educate the young people about the realities of abortion. They distribute baby-feet pins and videos produced by pro-life organizations to employees and customers.

“These kids are the future of the pro-life movement,” said Edward, who has had many frank discussions with his young employees about his beliefs.

He even helped one employee prepare a presentation on abortion for her high school class.

The Gormans became involved in the pro-life movement about eight years ago when they started praying the rosary. “That dramatically changed our life,” said Kathleen, 56. “It brought us into a deeper faith, and I think everything stemmed from that.”

“Now we’re trying to do God’s work,” she added.

Kathleen said she often talks about God at the restaurant. And, she prays for her customers.

The couple know many of their patrons personally. Some of their photos occupy places of honor on the walls alongside hundreds of historical photos of farmers and turn-of-the-century scenes of Lake Elmo, prompting one Internet reviewer to dub the restaurant “The Lake Elmo Historical Society.”

“All of these people coming in are like a big family,” Kathleen said.

Priests who frequent the restaurant carry VIP (Very Important Priest) cards, good for a free meal. Several groups of disabled adults also eat at the restaurant for free once a month.

Leading by example

For the Gormans, leading with faith means leading by example.

They’ve both worked every job in the restaurant at some point. “We don’t ever feel like we’re too good to do anything,” Kathleen said. “We wouldn’t ask anybody to do something that we wouldn’t do ourselves.”

They also treat everyone who walks through their doors with respect. “When people come in, I want to treat them like I would if my dad were sitting at the counter,” Kathleen said. “Same with our employees.”

“You need to have your goals,” Kathleen added, “and if your goal is heaven, then I think that really helps.”


  • Title: Owners of Gorman’s Restaurant, Lake Elmo
  • Parish: Blessed Sacrament, St. Paul
  • Children: Jason, Kevin, Angela
  • Activities: Edward: Parish trustee, vice president of the board of directors of the Women’s Life Care Center in Little Canada, member of Knights of Columbus Kathleen: Volunteer counselor at Women’s Life Care Center in Little Canada


Category: Leading With Faith