River Valley Restaurants Serving Up Free Thanksgiving Meals

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While several restaurants will be open for business on Thanksgiving, two restaurants in the River Valley are getting in the holiday spirit by offer their guests a feast free of charge.

Employees at Sisters Gourmet Bistro in Van Buren (719 Main Street) will be serving 25 turkeys, 15 hams and all the fixings on an all-you-can-eat buffet for an expected 500 guests, according to restaurant owner Richard Hodo.

Hodo said the meal is not just intended for families in need, but anyone in the community who doesn't feel like cooking or just wants to enjoy a free meal at his restaurant.

"It's all about giving back," said Hodo. "It's the spirit of Thanksgiving."

Regina Davis and her siblings have been serving free Thanksgiving meals at Broadway Joe's Cafe in Muldrow (313 W. Shantel Smith Blvd.) for more than a decade in honor of their late mother.

"As we were raised we didn't have a lot, but my mother always made sure that we were fed and that she gave whatever she had to other people," Davis said.

Both restaurants will deliver meals to seniors and those who are otherwise housebound. Those interested in having a meal delivered should call the restaurant directly to place an order.

Davis said between those who dined in and those who took their food to go, Broadway Joe's Cafe served about 1,100 meals last year.

According to Hodo, 25 of his employees at Sisters Gourmet Bistro will be working for free on Thanksgiving as a way to give back.

"We told them, 'You want to clock in, you clock in. That's fine.' They say, 'No, Mr. Hodo. If you're giving back to the community, then we want to give something back too."

Both restaurants said donations are welcome but not required. Hodo said any donations collected at Sisters Gourmet Bistro will be donated to the Van Buren 'Shop with a Cop' program. The restaurant collected about $1,400 for the program last Thanksgiving, according to Hodo.

Both restaurants will accept volunteers who are interested in helping to serve the Thanksgiving meal. Volunteers do not need to give the restaurants advance notice and are welcome to volunteer as much time as they'd like.

Doors will open at Sisters Gourmet Bistro at 10:30 a.m. and free meals will be served until the food is gone. Meals will be served at Broadway Joe's Cafe from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.


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