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Skyland Restaurant continues tradition of free Thanksgiving meal for people in need

A Skyland Restaurant worker prepares turkeys for free meals at a past Thanksgiving food giveaway.
A Skyland Restaurant worker prepares turkeys for free meals at a past Thanksgiving food giveaway. Observer File Photo

One of Charlotte’s most unusual holiday traditions returns on Thanksgiving Day, when the Skyland Restaurant will offer a free take-out Thanksgiving dinner not just to the poor, but to travelers and people stranded in the community.

This is the 11th year the restaurant has offered the free meal, which was created as a way for restaurant owner and immigrant Jimmy Kakavitsas to thank the people of his adopted home. He came here from Greece in 1967 and says the Charlotte community helped his restaurant become a success.

That’s why his free meals aren’t just for the poor or homeless, as is the case with most holiday charity efforts. It’s for any people who find themselves alone and isolated from loved ones for the day. In years past, the restaurant has given away as many as 3,000 meals to people who lined up at the door on Thanksgiving. The dinners include a turkey and all the trimmings, plus tea.

The event starts at 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving and runs until 2 p.m. in front of the restaurant, which is located at 4544 South Boulevard. The meal is often served by volunteers from the city’s Greek-American community, which numbers as many as 20,000 people. Many of them launched their careers in the food service business.

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