Restaurant known for free Thanksgiving meals that closes this year

Restaurant known for free Thanksgiving meals that closes this year

Skyland Family Restaurant is known for feeding thousands of people for free on Thanksgiving.

CHARLOTTE, NC – Skyland Restaurant announced it will be closed on Thanksgiving for the first time in over 15 years due to labor shortages and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every year, Skyland Restaurant, located on South Boulevard near Woodlawn, distributes thousands of free Thanksgiving dinners to anyone who wants a homemade meal in the community. Skyland owner Jimmy Kakavitsas said they handed out over 3,000 boxes complete with turkey and all accessories last year.

Skyland will be closed on Thanksgiving for the first time since 2005.

“It was a difficult decision, but the impact of COVID and the lack of manpower played a big role in our decision,” Skyland Restaurant said in a statement.

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Kakavitsas said food shipments have been too unreliable to consider staying open and giving out meals.

“When you order 10 items, four of them are short, they don’t have it,” Kakavitsas said.

While the restaurant could have kept open for paying customers, Kakavitsas said it would not feel right.

“I can not stay here and feed one and not feed the others, so I have to close this year,” Kakavitsas said.

The needy, however, are not forgotten.

“The Ophelia Garmon Brown Center will be beautifully decorated and we invite people to come and sit and just be treated like royalty,” said Beverly Knox Davis of A Brighter Day Ministries.

A Brighter Day Ministries and other local organizations have teamed up to feed 5,000 people the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Knox Davis said they also feel the shortage when trying to find food.

“It has taken a lot just to search Charlotte to get answers from leaders to help us,” Knox Davis said.

Knox Davis said community donations from people to businesses to farmers have taken care of most aspects – the biggest challenge has been finding the main course.

“We can still use some turkeys,” Knox Davis said.

Knox Davis said they have come up with a contingency plan if they do not have enough.

“A ham or a little chicken or a chicken or something, so we have room for that, too,” Knox Davis said.

Knox Davis said everyone is welcome to their community event next Tuesday for the free Thanksgiving meal. It’s from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 23 at the Ophelia Garmon Brown Center on Freedom Drive. For those interested in helping, the event has a sign-up page for volunteers.

Kakavitsas said he hopes things will be normal again next year so he can also help feed our community members in need.

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