Aspen’s Hickory House serving up a Thanksgiving tradition |

Aspen’s Hickory House serving up a Thanksgiving tradition

Janet UrquhartThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Diogaudi, owner of the Hickory House, prepares the smoked turkeys for the restaurants annual Thanksgiving day dinner.

ASPEN – As always, Aspenites and visitors who find themselves far from home and family on Thanksgiving Day can turn to the Hickory House for turkey and all the fixin’s, just like mom used to make. Except most moms don’t cook 55 turkeys for the occasion.The Thanksgiving Day feast, a social event open to all comers, is a Hickory House tradition that predates owner Paul Dioguardi, but he was quick to adopt the practice of preparing a free community meal. He bought the Main Street restaurant in 1998.Diners are welcome to give a donation (the restaurant turns the proceeds over to The Buddy Program), but contributions are strictly voluntary.”We just put a box out and whatever people give, they give,” Dioguardi said.The “Hick House,” as it’s affectionately known, won’t be serving its customary breakfast today, but diners are welcome from noon to 5 p.m. to partake of a meal that’s been in the making for much of this week. Building landlord Tong Luu has, as usual, provided the turkeys. The Hickory House, known as a rib joint, has smoked 55 of them for the occasion. The staff has also peeled 350 pounds of potatoes for the mashers.”We’ve always talked about going instant, but it’s just not the same,” Dioguardi said.The menu also includes 300 pounds of roast beef, provided by the restaurant, plus stuffing, green beans, Hick House coleslaw, bread, cookies and pie. Supplier U.S. Foodservice donates to the cause, as do Aspen’s Main Street Bakery & Cafe and Paradise Bakery. Aspen Caterers provides various pieces of serving equipment for the feast.The Hickory House staff, which has prepped the meal this week while serving breakfast, lunch and dinner as usual at the restaurant, has the Thanksgiving dinner down to a science, said Dioguardi. Anyone who wants to volunteer today can just show up and offer to lend a hand at serving, busing tables, washing dishes, etc.What used to be stressful is now just another day at the Hick House for Dioguardi. Except, it’s not.”It’s one of my favorite days here,” he said.