LINCOLN, Maine — There’s the woman from Alaska who telephones every year to ensure that her mother, a local resident, gets a Thanksgiving Day dinner delivered to her. Then there’s the California resident who sent a card half-humorously complaining that her husband got a better Thanksgiving dinner at Gillmor’s Restaurant than he could get at home. About $800 in donations arrive, along with a few dozen turkeys.
After five years, the Lincoln restaurant’s annual free Thanksgiving Day dinner has the momentum most established events get, restaurant manager and head chef Cole Averill said.
“We could have done it for just one year and said that we had done a good thing, but we keep getting donations and thanks about it, and that makes it a lot easier,” Averill said Wednesday.
The 15 to 20 restaurant volunteers who will be serving the dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday will serve or deliver 200 to 400 dinners before they are finished, Averill said.
The dinners will be quintessential Thanksgiving feasts — turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls and peas with apple or pumpkin pie for dessert, Averill said. Coffee, tea and Pepsi products also will be served.
Restaurant owners Charles and Catherine Gillmor began serving the meals in 2006 to fill a community need and say thanks to their customers. They have found that the dinner relieves some of the strain felt by local food pantries around the holidays and provides comfort to many folks who lack family or money for a community meal, Averill said.
Any Lincoln resident interested in receiving a free meal can telephone 794-6565 or visit the restaurant during the meal. No reservations are required, Averill said.
Averill and four other cooks started on Tuesday preparing the 42 or 43 turkeys — including 20 donated 20-pounders — they expect to serve Thursday. They expected to be cooking turkey dinners all night Wednesday while also handling the restaurant’s regular fare, finishing all by about 5 a.m., he said.
And that, cook Fred Kaplan said, is when the staff really gets to enjoy itself with its own Thanksgiving Day dinner.
“You cannot serve anything,” Kaplan said, “unless there’s some quality assurance going on.”