Local restaurant gives back by serving free Thanksgiving dinner

Queen’s Café on Victoria Road served over 100 free Thanksgiving dinners on Monday

The smell of turkeys cooking wafted across the parking lot outside Queen’s Café on Monday afternoon as the east Guelph restaurant got ready to serve 100 free turkey dinners.

Inside, staff was busy setting tables, mashing potatoes and cooking vegetables in advance of the first sitting that would arrive in an hour.

Owners Ron Hill and Tammy Hsieh wanted to give back to the community as a way of giving back to a city that embraced them when they opened the restaurant at the corner of Victoria Road and Elizabeth Street (hence the “Queen’s” name) a little over a year ago.

“We are a really small restaurant and when we opened we got a lot of help from the community,” said Hsieh. “Now I’m thinking it’s time for giving back.”

Turkey, homemade gravy, vegetables, mashed potatoes followed with pumpkin pie. All free.

“We bought the pumpkin pies. There’s no way we have enough room to cook all those pies,” Hill said with a laugh.

The couple started planning a few weeks ago, contacting local social service agencies and organizations to let them know what they were doing and signing people up who might be in need for one of the three sittings that took place Monday.

“Everybody struggles. Everybody needs some help at some point,” Hsieh said. “We are just in a position to help out and it’s something we really wanted to do.”

Once word got out what they were doing, others chipped in.

Regular customers from Wilson Fire Security donated 10 fresh turkeys. Another regular donated $100 to help defray the cost and staff and others offered to volunteer their time to serve the dinner.

They actually had to turn away people looking to volunteer.

Hill and Hsieh were in at 8 a.m. Monday morning getting the turkeys in the oven and Hsieh said there is around 110 pounds of potatoes boiled and mashed.

“We have enough turkey to do around 250 meals. We didn’t want to run short,” Hill said.

“We’re expecting around 100 people but word has been spreading on social media, so we’ve got some takeout containers for those we can’t fit in,” said Hill.

Queen’s Café seats 36.

“Honestly, it doesn’t take that much to put on, especially when you have people willing to volunteer.”

And what about the couple’s own Thanksgiving dinner?

“This is our Thanksgiving,” Hsieh said.

guelphtoday.com  by: Troy Saxon