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'Deep regret': This Charlotte restaurant will be closed on Thanksgiving for the 1st time in 15 years

Skyland Family Restaurant is well-known for feeding thousands of people at no charge on Thanksgiving.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Skyland Restaurant announced it will be closed on Thanksgiving for the first time in over 15 years due to labor shortages and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Each year, the Skyland Restaurant, which is located on South Boulevard near Woodlawn, hands out thousands of free Thanksgiving dinners to anyone who wants a home-cooked meal in the community. Skyland's owner, Jimmy Kakavitsas, said they handed out over 3,000 boxes complete with turkey and all the trimmings last year. 

Skyland will be closed on Thanksgiving for the first time since 2005. 

"It was a difficult decision; however, the impact of COVID and the labor shortage played a major role in our decision," Skyland Restaurant said in a statement. 

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Kakavitsas said food shipments have been too unreliable to consider remaining open and giving out meals.

“When you order 10 items, four of them are short, they don’t have it," Kakavitsas said.

While the restaurant could’ve stayed open for paying customers, Kakavitsas said wouldn’t feel right.

“I cannot stay here and feed one and not feed the others, so I have to close this year," Kakavitsas said.

Those in need aren’t being forgotten, though.

“The Ophelia Garmon Brown center will be decorated beautifully and we are inviting people to come and sit and just be treated like royalty," said Beverly Knox Davis with A Brighter Day Ministries.

A Brighter Day Ministries and other local organizations have partnered to feed 5,000 people on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Knox Davis said they’re feeling the shortages too when trying to find food.

“It has taken lots of just scouring Charlotte to get responses from managers to help us out," Knox Davis said.

Knox Davis said community donations from people to businesses to farmers have taken care of most of the sides – the main challenge has been finding the main dish.

"We can still use some turkeys," Knox Davis said.

Knox Davis said they’ve come up with a contingency plan in case they don’t have enough.

“A ham or a small chicken or hen or something like that so we have accommodated for that as well," Knox Davis said.

Knox Davis said all are welcome to their community unity event next Tuesday for that free thanksgiving meal. It is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 23 at the Ophelia Garmon Brown Center on Freedom Drive. For those interested in helping, the event has a volunteer sign-up page.

Kakavitsas said he hopes things will be back to normal next year so he can help feed our community members in need too.

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