The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

The Essence Of Giving

November 26th, 2009 · No Comments · Posted in food news

A restaurant and its neighbors work together on a special meal

A restaurant and its neighbors work together on a special meal

You can title this “Miracle On ‘S’ Street.”

For the past 11 years, while most people are feasting with family, neighbors of Rosemary’s Thyme Bistro, located on the corner of 18th and S streets near tony Dupont Circle here in the District of Columbia, have been quietly pooling their efforts to throw a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and needy.

Beginning in the morning, residents fan out from their fashionable row houses and apartments to collect from streets and shelters those who don’t have a family to visit, then drive them back to the restaurant. There, a volunteer staff–owner Erdogan Dogu, the bistro’s manager, the assistant manager, a couple of other employees–set up the buffet: roast turkey, stuffing and soup made by the restaurant, mashed potatoes, string beans, cranberry sauce–all the traditional side dishes–plus pumpkin pies and cakes all donated by neighbors.

Through the lunch hour and into the afternoon, about 200 diners pass through the food line, seating themselves on the restaurant’s well-appointed patio. When they’ve had their fill, they then proceed to the other side of the restaurant to choose from a selection of clothing, also donated by the neighborhood.

Dogu said he doesn’t even know how this Thanksgiving tradition started. On any other day of the year, he’d be serving New York strip steaks, lamb kabobs, seafood ravioli. But when he bought the restaurant location from the previous owner–Lauriol Plaza, which moved up the street–neighbors came to him and explained that this is what they wanted to do. “It’s mostly the people on Swan Street,” many of them restaurant patrons, Dogu said. Those same neighbors not only provide transportation, food and clothing, they also help with the food service.

On signs posted on lamp posts and doorways near Rosemary’s Thyme a notice announces that all are welcome to this Thanksgiving feast. But according to Dogu, it’s really the needy who eat, while others pitch in. “Some people, they actually buy clothes to give away,” he said. “They bring brand new clothes–winter clothing, shoes, jackets.”

They do it without fanfare, absent the glare of television lights or media scribes–a wonderful example of sharing and community that should be what Thanksgiving is all about. “We’ve been cooking turkeys for two days now,” said Dogu. “We’re a neighborhood restaurant. It’s nice to be able to help.”

Who knows. If you happen to be near the corner of 18th and S streets around lunchtime this Thanksgiving, maybe you’ll want to drop by and lend a hand as well.

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