Restaurants keep kitchens open on Thanksgiving to ensure everyone has a hot meal

Restaurants across the Twin Cities served up free warm meals on Thanksgiving for members of the community.

For many families, Thanksgiving traditions start in the kitchen. But all across the Twin Cities, people are using this holiday to help others out and make sure everyone has a hot meal for the holiday.

If you were at Minnehaha Temple in Minneapolis on Thursday, you were greeted with a smile from Cecelia Viel and a plate with something good to eat.

"We want people in the community to have a place to go and feel welcome and eat and hang out with us," she said.

Out of the city, in the small town of Cologne, Burky's Bar was also serving up free meals.

"We got our mashed potatoes, our turkey, our gravy," said owner Tom Burkhart.

Burkhart says free grub and football is a way to get people in the door, ensuring no one spends Thanksgiving alone.

"A lot of us around here are smaller groups, smaller families... families are out of state so we just decided to throw a free turkey dinner for Thanksgiving," he added.

There are even options for people who prefer to skip the turkey. J. Selby’s in St. Paul was also busy giving out free "animal-free" dinners, serving up 400 meals in just the first couple of hours.

"It’s absolutely delicious," customer Paige Albu. "Where I’m from, vegan is not a big thing so it’s really nice to be able to come and have a totally vegan dinner where you can hang out and not feel judged by people who are like 'oh you’re eating 'fake turkey.'"

So, however you celebrate, we hope it’s with people in the places you care about.