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Restaurant owner says thanks by giving back

Restaurant owner Jo-Jo Shabani and his wife Ida Shabani stand outside River Falls Family Restaurant, 702 N Main St. The restaurant will give away a free, traditional Thanksgiving meal to all comers Thursday, Nov. 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (River Falls Journal photo by Gretta Stark)

While many people get up early Thanksgiving morning to start basting and baking one turkey for their families, Jo-Jo Shabani, owner of River Falls Family Restaurant, 702 N. Main St., plans to cook 10-12 Thanksgiving turkeys this year.

He plans to give them all away.

“If people are in need of help, it makes me feel good to help them,” Shabani said. “We give to everybody. Whoever wants to come and eat.”

Shabani said River Falls Family Restaurant will serve a free Thanksgiving meal from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 28.

Shabani said the restaurant will be serving roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables for free. He said anyone who wants to come eat is welcome.

“We like to give. (It) makes us feel good inside. Hopefully we can help somebody out,” Shabani said. “What’s the point of taking, taking, taking all the time? We’ve got to give once in a while.”

Shabani said the entire Family Restaurant chain will offer a free Thanksgiving meal. Shabani said there are about 20 restaurants in the chain.

While Shabani will be busy roasting turkeys in the restaurant kitchen, he said he’ll try to take some time to greet customers on Thanksgiving.

“I would like to see as many people here as we can,” Shabani said. “We appreciate the customers coming and celebrating Thanksgiving with us.”

Community Meal

River Falls Family Restaurant isn’t the only place local people can find free food this Thanksgiving.

St. Bridget Church, 211 East Division St., will host the River Falls Community Thanksgiving Dinner this year. The meal will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 28.

The meal is put on is a group effort between various local organizations and individuals.

The non-denominational event will serve those that are home alone, shut-ins, needy, and travelers. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Requests or carry out and delivered meals can be made by calling 715-425-5478 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Nov. 25-26, calling Saint. Bridget church at 715-425-1870 or through other local churches. Delivery forms are also available at the River Falls Community Food Pantry, River Falls senior center (located at WelLHaven Senior Apartments, 119 Union St.), and other local senior living apartments. 

Community Dinner chair Art Smith said people can call to request delivered meals up through Thanksgiving Day, but day-of requests will be limited by how much food is available. 

The meal will include turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, dressing, coleslaw, cranberries, rolls, butter, milk, coffee, pickles and pumpkin pie.

For more information, call the St. Bridget’s office at 715-425-1870 or call Smith at 715-425-5478.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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