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Farmington restaurant serves a free meal for holiday orphans

When Kirk Zeaman lived in State College, Pa., there was a restaurant that offered a free meal on Thanksgiving. It was a gathering place for people who couldn’t afford a meal of their own, or who didn’t have family in the area to celebrate with.

Zeaman always liked the tradition, and now that he is a restaurant owner himself he’s bringing it to Farmington.

From noon until 2 p.m. Thursday, Farmington’s Ground Round is opening its doors to anyone who needs a good meal. The restaurant will serve turkey and stuffing, corn, rolls, apple pie and ice cream.

Zeaman and his partner, David Hartnett, also own the Dunn Bros. coffee shop at the other end of the Tamarack Ridge shopping center. Dunn Bros. will serve coffee.

“We’re just going to put on a really basic, nothing sophisticated, simple Thanksgiving Day dinner,” said Zeaman. “The idea was for people who just need a meal and people who don’t have anywhere else to go. Some of my staff have told me that they don’t have family in the nearby area so they end up making a TV dinner.”

Zeaman started talking about the dinner with his employees about a month ago. Everyone who works the restaurant’s Thanksgiving meal is volunteering his or her time. Zeaman expected some of his employees to embrace the idea, but he was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who volunteered.

The meal will be served at lunchtime so employees who have family in the area can celebrate their own Thanksgiving.

But Zeaman, a longtime advocate of shopping local and supporting small businesses, believes there will be something special about his community meal, as long as people come to eat.

“People may end up sitting with people they don’t know, which would be kind of cool. Then they get to meet some people,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about it. I think a lot of folks are.”

Zeaman had a warmup for this week’s meal earlier in the month. He served free meals for veterans on Veterans Day and handed out about $700 worth of food. He’s planning for about 300 people on Thanksgiving. He has found a charity in Hastings that will take any leftovers.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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