September 2011 home page

Nancy Fisher | 24th Street
Retired Old Men Eating Out.  Photo Nancy Fisher


On the last Tuesday of every month the staff of Sbicca has a table waiting for ROMEO, an acronym for Retired Old Men Eating Out. Just before noon they start arriving -- a half dozen or so Del Mar men, retired from careers in law, insurance, manufacturing, aviation, the priesthood, and more -- coming together for camaraderie and a great meal.

The group, promoted by Del Mar Community Connections and led by Nate McCay, welcomes older Del Mar residents who want to socialize with other men in their age group, but with no pressure. “One of the big draws,” says Nate, “is that they don’t have to commit. They can come once or they can come regularly.”

Clay Johnson, who attended his first lunch in July, was talked into going by his wife, Shirley, who heard about the group through DMCC. “She’s kind of a joiner,” he explained, “but I’m glad I went and I’ll be going again.”

Tom Murch, who lost his wife in 2006, was told by friends and his doctor, “you’ve got to get out more.” The ROMEO group, recommended by fellow church members, turned out to be a good resource and has helped him to begin socializing again.
Although some in the group weren’t aware of it, similar men’s lunch clubs are springing up all over the country, perhaps inspired by Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation, which featured one of the first known ROMEO clubs. Founded by John “Lefty” Caulfield, and attended by childhood buddies who all went on to serve in World War II, the first ROMEO lunches were held in various diners near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Today, according to the website of romeoclub.org, there are hundreds of ROMEO groups across the U.S., some catering to men with shared backgrounds (Really Old Motorcyclists Eating Out) and others, like Del Mar’s group, to anyone looking for good food and conversation.

In a January AARP article Dr. William S. Pollack, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, was quoted as saying “What’s so nice about these groups of men is that it helps them discover what women know from the time they enter kindergarten, that a sense of connectedness feels good and is good for your emotional health.”

For more information, contact Heather Glenn at 858-792-7565 or email her at dmcc@dmcc.cc.



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