Many family-owned businesses across the state provide free turkey meals to local patrons to help give back to their communities. Michigan Radio spoke with a few owners of these restaurants and created a map to make note of the rest.
If you know of any other restaurants that provide free meals for Thanksgiving, let us know in the comment section below and we will add it to the map at the bottom of the post.
George's Senate Coney Island in Northville made national headlines after a picture of their sign inviting lonely diners to a free Thanksgiving feast went viral on Reddit. Restaurant owner George Dimopoulos said he has been providing free meals to 70-100 patrons for the past 10 years, but after all the media attention he'll be preparing meals for 500 people this year.
Dimopoulos left his home in Greece as a teenager and came to the United States in 1969. Before opening his own restaurant in 2003, Dimopoulos worked at other restaurants and noticed people who came in alone during the holidays.
"I lose a little bit money, but I do this from my heart so I do not care," Dimopoulos said.
A Detroit-area restaurant has gone viral for offering free meals to people alone on Thanksgiving. https://t.co/i9bBprD4E9
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 24, 2015
Dimopoulos is one of many restaurant owners in Michigan who will provide a full Thanksgiving feast for free this holiday season.
In Romulus, local high school students, fire fighters, city council members and even the mayor come to the Romulus House Restaurant the night before Thanksgiving to prepare a meal for the community and host a charity event. Samer Suleiman and Basem Alnimri, brothers and co-owners of the restaurant, have been providing free meals every Thanksgiving Eve for the past 12 years.
Suleiman said this year, he plans to make enough food for 500 people and will serve from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday. He hopes the meal and charity event will bring together different members of the Romulus community for a good cause.
"This community has been good to us and we like to give back to that community," Suleiman said.
In the west side of Michigan, Theo and Stacy's restaurant has been serving free meals in Kalamazoo since 1977. This year, the restaurants expects to serve around 2,500 patrons — 2,000 of whom will dine in the restaurant from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and 500 to-go orders.
Betty Peristeridis, daughter of restaurant founders Theo and Stacy, said the tradition started when her father noticed someone digging through their dumpster searching for food. He began providing these free meals each year ever since so that no one goes hungry through the holidays.
"We do it and we do it with pride," Peristeridis said. "We do not take any donations. It is not about the money, it is about helping people and doing what’s right."
The Original Cottage Inn in Ann Arbor has also provided free Thanksgiving meals for hundreds of patrons since 1983. Eric Hitchcock, general manager of the Cottage Inn location, said the original owner of the restaurant Nicholas Michos started the tradition, due in part to his generous personality.
"He was doing well himself, he was the type of person that takes care of other people, so he just decided he wanted to give back to the community in any way he can," Hitchcock said.
Michos passed away last summer, and this Thanksgiving will mark the second year in a row he is not there to provide the meals himself.
This year, Cottage Inn will prepare a meal for around 200-300 people. Hitchcock said he doesn't ask questions about who comes in for a meal — whether you are homeless, in need or simply in the area, you are welcome to dine for free.
"I just think it’s good for people to realize that when you are in the position to be able to do this, you need to do it, just because it’s the right thing to do," Hitchcock said.
The Michigan Radio Newsroom found seven Michigan restaurants that will provide free Thanksgiving meals to patrons. The names and addresses of the restaurants can be found on this map. If you know of others, add them to the comment section!:
— Allana Akhtar, Michigan Radio Newsroom