ROCKY RIVER - For the last six years one family felt odd spending Thanksgiving at home. That's because the holiday for them meant serving free meals at their restaurant. It was a tradition they stopped during economic hard times but have since been able to bounce back, and today opened their doors again.
Thanksgiving is back at Michael's Restaurant in Rocky River. This year though, they partnered with their new neighbors, Whole Foods, to prepare all the food. They cooked 600 pounds of potatoes to mash, 150 pounds of stuffing, 200 pounds of corn and 50 turkeys. The turkeys were all around 30 pounds too. This is a tradition that has been missed very much in this community.
“Amen. Happy Thanksgiving.”
And just like that, an absence of this Thanksgiving Day tradition, returned to its existence.
“It is just a wonderful way of them giving back to the community that has been patronizing them for so many years,” said Sherry Calavitta.
Mike Petrakis opened his restaurant in 1978.
“I am a Greek immigrant,” said Petrakis. “When I arrive here. I arrived here penniless. I had nothing in my pocket."
His business took off. So a few years later to say thank you, he welcomed customers and those in need to stop by for a free meal on Thanksgiving Day.
"There are not many places left like this anymore,” said Calavitta.
Over the years, they made this place feel just like home for so many. A visit came with hugs, kisses, conversations, plus that home cooked meal. And now, the gracious gift of giving graced this community once again.
Petrakis and his family have been serving free meals on Thanksgiving for more than 30 years now. They estimate that they feed about 1,000 people a year. So that means, they have served more than 30,000 people.