A Michigan restaurant owner’s heartfelt offer for some Thanksgiving hospitality has struck a chord after a photo of a sign at the eatery went viral on the Internet.
George’s Senate Coney Island has offered lonely customers a free meal on Thanksgiving for the last 10 years. But on Thursday, a passerby noticed a sign in the window with the offer, snapped a quick shot and posted it to the social media website Reddit.
The sign reads: “George’s Thanksgiving Day Dinner. If anyone is home alone, come eat with us for free! All day.”
Restaurateur George Dimopoulos told ABC News there is a very personal reason for his generosity. “The reason I do this is because I was alone one time,” he said. “I remember the good times and bad times.”
A native of Greece, Dimopoulos left home at age 12 and moved to Athens, where he recalled asking others for food. When he moved to the United States at 23, Dimopoulos settled into the restaurant business, opening a string of Greek-themed breakfast, lunch and dinner spots throughout the ’90s before establishing his Northville location in 2002.
Dimopoulos said he does not mind that even some customers who are not down on their luck may take advantage of his hospitality.
“I don’t question people when they ask for food,” he said. “If they are alone, I give it to them anyway. I can see the way they look. Not many people go out by themselves.”
Dimopoulos said 59 people enjoyed his all-you-can-eat buffet and “famous” Greek salad at his Northville restaurant last year, and 84 customers came through in 2013. Mostly men and young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 take advantage of the deal, he said.
As of 2015, 34,642 people are homeless in the Detroit Metro area, which includes Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Monroe counties, according to the Campaign to End Homelessness. Northville borders Wayne and Oakland counties. The Detroit Metro area has the highest homeless population in the state of Michigan, according to the campaign.
Though it was Dimopoulos’s Thanksgiving deal that garnered the attention on the Internet, the owner said he’s flexible.
“My regular customers like what I do,” he said. “It’s actually all-year-round if people ask. Eighty people came in for Easter this year for both American and Greek Easter.”
Dimopoulos said his compassion for his community takes precedence over his finances.
“I lose a little bit, but I feel good to help them. I hope the whole country gives back. People really appreciate it,” he said.
Dimopoulos said George’s Senate Coney Island customers are more than welcome to enjoy a traditional hot turkey plate with mashed potatoes and gravy, dine on Coney Island hot dogs and leave room for dessert.