A Morning Cup of Coffee at the Bentley




A Cup of Coffee at the Bentley


Yesterday, I asked, “Mike, did you have a cup of coffee this morning?”

He grinned. “Sure. I got a hot cup from the Bentley.”


I met my homeless friend, Mike, at the corner of 2nd and Desoto in downtown Alexandria. 

I asked, “Where’d you sleep last night?  Mike, have you eaten today?”

We’re close enough that I can ask personal questions without offending him.

I met Mike through Church on the Levee, a homeless church that meets on Sundays at the amphitheater on the Red River levee.

Mike and I found a connection in our shared love of writing. Among his earthly possessions, he carries a stack of spiral notebooks filled with his scribbled thoughts. He and I attend the Cenla Author’s Club, where he is a valued member.

Never once has Mike asked me for money. I buy groceries for him from time to time and take him to What-A-Burger.

I’ve realized my job is to provide friendship as I seek to show Mike the love of Jesus. I always ensure that I give him a manly handshake. It may be the only physical touch he receives that week.

Yesterday, I asked, “Mike, did you have a cup of coffee this morning?”

He grinned. “Sure. I got a hot cup from the Bentley.”

“You got coffee from the Hotel Bentley?”

“Yeah, I slip in through a side door each morning, and the workers serve me a cup.”

I smiled. “A fresh cup of coffee at the Bentley.”

I thought of Joseph Bentley and what he would’ve thought.

Joseph Bentley, a timber baron from Pennsylvania, arrived in Alexandria in 1908 during the heyday of the vast cutover of the longleaf forests.

After a hard day tromping through the woods, Joseph Bentley was denied dinner service at an  Alexandria hotel due to his “dress and lack of proper attire.”

Joseph Bentley didn’t take this slight laying down.  “I will build a hotel that will put yours to shame and hopefully also put it out of business.”

And that’s how the majestic Hotel Bentley came to be along the Red River. It is considered the finest hotel between Memphis and New Orleans.   A classic Renaissance-style hotel, it is built primarily of marble.

A visit to its lobby is a must for every visitor to Alexandria. It is breathtaking, with its chandeliers, mural frescoes on the ceiling, and a grand ballroom.


Walking in, I’m transported back to the Red River cotton boom or New Orleans during the height of the steamboat era. I can nearly smell the cigar smoke and echoes from the once-crowded lobby.

Over the last fifty years, the Bentley has gone through tough times of closure and new ownership, but you’d never know it as you stand in the lobby.

Behind the lobby, there’s a legendary room where Generals Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and Krueger purportedly dissected the 1941 Louisiana  Maneuvers and began laying the groundwork for the coming war in Europe.

Joseph Bentley resided in his hotel until his death in 1938.

There’s a portrait of him in the lobby. I always tip my cap as I pass.


I’d like to ask him what he thought about a homeless man slipping in the side door each morning for a steaming cup of Community.


It’s just my imagination, but I’d swear I detected a slight smile as I passed his portrait.


Joseph Bentley.  He built a historic hotel that oversees downtown Alexandria, where I work.


The Hotel Bentley.


You’ve got to see it to believe it.


While you’re there, ask for a steaming cup of coffee. Tell them it’s on the house.


The house Joseph Bentley built.


As always, Enjoy!







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