Supply shortages force restaurant to cancel free Thanksgiving meals

CHARLOTTE — It has been a tradition for families who don’t have anywhere else to go on Thanksgiving, but after nearly 30 years of serving up hot holiday meals, Skyland Family Restaurant will be closed.

“Very disappointed. Very. I love to do it. I like to give back to the community,” Owner Jimmy Kakavitsas said.

Since 2007, the restaurant on South Boulevard in Charlotte has handed out thousands of free meals every Thanksgiving as a way of giving back to the community. This year, it’s not going to happen.

Kakavitsas said he doesn’t have enough help to pull off the dinner, and supply chain shortages mean that many food items are in short supply.

“We have a lot of wishes, a lot of people wish us the best. What can I say? It’s a little depressing not to do it, but this pressed me too much and I don’t want to start something I cannot complete,” he said.

James Helms is an Air Force veteran, and for the last two years, he’s gotten Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant for him and his wife. He’s disappointed there won’t be a dinner this year.

“The last two years, she was disabled, and I brought food home from here. We’re gonna miss it a lot,” Helms said. “He did a great job, and we really appreciated it. I’m sorry he can’t do it again. I wish there was some way we could help him.”

Dorothy Davis eats at Skyland every Sunday and said she’s sad about the cancellation of the holiday dinner because she knows what it means to the community.

“There is this young lady that I know, she’s in a wheelchair, and she makes her way up here every Thanksgiving to get her dinner,” she said.

Kakavitsas said he hopes that things are better next year and he can bring the tradition back.

(WATCH BELOW: Charlotte businesses give out nearly 600 turkey dinners to local families)