For the past 17 years T.K. Ribbing's Family Restaurant in Falconer has brought friends and family together to celebrate a Thanksgiving tradition of fellowship and full bellies.
Area residents gathered at T.K. Ribbing's Family Restaurant on Thursday to enjoy a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings. The event is hosted each year by Steve Ribbing, owner, his wife Kay, and volunteers from all over the Chautauqua County community.
According to Ribbing, the event started 18 years ago after sitting around with family after enjoying a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving.
Area residents and volunteers join Steve Ribbing, owner of T.K. Ribbing’s Family Restaurant in Falconer, in a moment of prayer before serving Thanksgiving meals.
P-J photo by Dusten Rader
"We were stuffed to the hilt and laying on the floor," said Ribbing. "So, we thought that there are so many people who don't have anything, and here we are stuffed and have all this stuff left over. That's when I asked my wife and kids about starting a dinner for the community. We tried it the next year with me, my wife, our four boys, my sisters and my mom and dad, and we served maybe 100 dinners. Over the next few years it grew and more people wanted to help."
The event grew over the next 17 years and now includes more than 50 volunteers, and to serves more than 1,500 dinners.
"It's not so much about how many dinners we serve, we just want to help," said Ribbing. "We do this one day a year because God entrusted upon us that we should do this. So, we've been blessed by God, and we just want to pass the blessing on."
"It's not so much about how many dinners we serve, we just want to help."
Steve Ribbing, T.K. Ribbing's owner
Each Thanksgiving dinner served included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, a roll, homemade fruit salad and a piece of pie. All of the food served was made possible through donations.
"The community has always stepped up," said Ribbing. "It amazes me that with the economy were in that people continue to donate, but, we are all in this together."
Since its humble beginning the event has grown to also do deliveries for those who cannot make it into the restaurant. But, what the event is really about, said Ribbing, is getting people together in one place for fellowship.
"It started out with the idea of bringing people in," said Ribbing. "It's gotten to a point where some people would rather just have the dinner delivered, but, I don't want that. I want for people to come in who have no place to go, no family or are traveling. In past years the place would be full, people would come in to have fellowship and be with people on Thanksgiving."
But, many people still do go to the restaurant to celebrate or to volunteer. Jessica Lutgen, of Jamestown, brought her daughters, Alexis and Kayla, to T.K. Ribbing's Family Restaurant in Falconer to volunteer for its Thanksgiving celebration.
"It's a day to be thankful for what we have," said Lutgen. "So, it's always nice to share that thankfulness with somebody, even if it's just a bright smile to make someone's day."
Dolores Parsons, of the Resource Center's New Visions program, also stopped by to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with client Carl Haskell.
"At New Visions we service clients every day, even on holidays, so we came to eat because Carl wanted to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner," said Parsons.
A couple of seniors from Sinclairville also stopped by for the first time to enjoy the atmosphere, partake in a warm Thanksgiving meal and meet some new people. They said that they came because they were lonely, and they had read about the event in The Post-Journal. They were thankful for being alive and having good health.
Goldia Many, of Falconer, said that she came out because her oven doesn't work and she is on her own. She also stopped by because she had won a turkey then gave it away, then bought another and gave that one away too, so she didn't have a meal to enjoy at home.
"I was going to order a meal in, but somebody at Church told me I should go down to T.K. Ribbing's Family Restaurant to fellowship with the people there," said Many. "I'm thankful for them hosting this and I would really like to volunteer and help out next year. I also want to thank the restaurant for praying over this meal."
T.K. Ribbing's Family Restaurant is located at 153 W. Main St. in Falconer. For more information call 665-3474 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.