Angie’s dishes free Thanksgiving meals

kjahner@newsobserver.comNovember 30, 2013 

— Angie Mikus remembers a time where holidays left her emotions mixed at best. That’s largely why she tries to lift the spirits of as many people as she can during them.

In the second year of offering free Thanksgiving dinner at her restaurant Angie’s Restaurant, Mikus nearly doubled the number of meals she served, plating almost 400.

“Since my grandmother passed away, I was always kind of lost, and the holidays weren’t the best for me,” Mikus said. “I feel like Garner is my family, and they’ve done so much for me through the years. I wanted to do something to give back.”

The restaurant owner, a former waitress, said that despite being a single mom, she has never gone without because the community always stepped up to help her. And she noted that “beaucoup volunteers” and donors stepped in to help her do the same for others with this event.

Green-shirted volunteers, as well as a few wearing leather motorcycle club jackets, dished out ham, turkey and all the fixings to grateful recipients.

“This is pretty cool,” said Deshawn Davis, who is in barber school and had just moved to Garner from Ohio the week before. “It touches my heart.”

Eating with Davis was Fletcher Blackmon, who had been laughing and joking in the line with volunteers.

“It means a lot to me,” Blackmon said. “It was the best Thanksgiving dinner I ever had.”

This year, Mikus added a carryout option that delivered many meals to people who couldn’t get out of their homes. She fronts the money for the meals herself, but she has also received various yet-to-be-counted donations of money and food to help defray costs. And Mikus intends to expand on that aspect next year. She wants to work harder to make sure fewer and fewer people in the area go without a quality Thanksgiving meal.

“I think everybody had a great time; we had a great turnout. I plan on doing it every year as long as I’m able,” Mikus said. “We hope we can change someone’s life – or at least give them a hot meal.”

As they worked, volunteers mingled with the guests, who ranged from homeless people to those who just didn’t have anyone to celebrate Thanksgiving with. Some children who had been helping sat with a couple of patrons and were chatting about various topics as they ate.

“He (one of the attendees) was telling them about his homelessness – that they needed to listen to what their parents told them,” said Faye Gardner, who has volunteered at the restaurant’s event both years. “That is just another example of community support that is inclusive of everyone. It’s a good thing to do and a fun thing to do. I think that it’s a great opportunity for parents to be an example for their children, to let them know that everyone is not as fortunate as we are.”

As he ate, Herman Brooks, who has long known Mikus, said he was glad to see people doing stuff like this. Jim Loehr, a 30-year Garner resident eating with Brooks, said he occasionally eats at Angie’s on the weekend. He added that the event summed up Angie’s: a friendly, community-based restaurant.

“If you come here not knowing anybody, you will (when you leave),” Loehr said.

Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland

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