Area restaurants open doors to those in need on Thanksgiving

Published: Nov. 22, 2018 at 8:03 AM EST
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"I can't thank them enough. Really, I can't," Bruce Rioux said.

Rioux has been spending Thanksgiving at Sweetwaters American Bistro in Burlington for the last 10 years. He says the food is delicious but he's most grateful for the companionship and kindness.

"It's actually been really wonderful. I got sat down next to a nice gentleman that was alone also. And we had great conversation, and he really enjoyed my company as far as letting me open up and understanding I have a mental illness," said Stacey Kelleher of Burlington.

Sweetwaters owner David Melincoff says showing that respect is exactly what the whole event is really about.

"When people come in the restaurant and they get seated on and waited on and when you walk in here, everyone's equal. There's no delineation between someone who makes tons of money or someone that doesn't have a coat and is living out on the streets," Melincoff said.

Sweetwaters isn't the only local restaurant keeping people warm and well-fed. Just 10 minutes down the road at the Last Stop, they're expanding the tradition

"I'm so proud to be in Winooski, Vermont today," Elizabeth Dendy said.

Dendy moved to here just four days ago from Utah. She was at a shelter Thanksgiving morning when Last Stop owner Shannon Garrett walked in, offering guests a ride to her bar, where they could enjoy food and friendship.

"Winooski is so small and it's got an element where people kind of want to take care of each other. People kind of want to take care of their own. So, it felt natural to kind of open our doors today and give people a platform for people to give and be a part of it," Garrett said.

"I had to come three-quarters of the way across the country to find out what Thanksgiving is really about," Dendy said.