New Castle restaurant holds feast for the less fortunate
November 27, 2009
NEW CASTLE, Colo. – Local restaurateurs Patti Reich and Bill Pugh told themselves they would help the less fortunate during the holidays if they were ever in the position to do so.
On Thursday, the owners of Patti’s Main Street Coffee House and Bill’s Cowboy Steakhouse in New Castle, made good on their promise by offering their establishment for a full sit-down Thanksgiving dinner for approximately 30 people in the Feed My Sheep’s homeless family.
A few weeks ago, Reich and Pugh came up with the idea of closing the restaurant to normal business on Thanksgiving and serving the homeless. After talking to coffeehouse regulars – Feed My Sheep (FMS) board of directors member Lee Price and Executive Director Kenneth Williams – the wheels started moving.
Part of the coordination of the event was transportation of the homeless in Glenwood Springs to New Castle. Once word was made known about the Thanksgiving effort, a church van was procured for this facet of the event.
Customers notice Patti’s Main Street Coffee House’s friendly environment, and that’s one reason for its success. Everyone seems to know everyone else and it’s a place customers want to be.
Regulars naturally asked Reich and Pugh what they were doing for Thanksgiving, and when they were told of the dinner for the homeless, most everyone wanted to know how they could help. Some customers even invited Reich and Pugh to their own homes for dinner or pie after the homeless dinner would be finished and cleaned up.
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“It’s been amazing,” said Reich. “People asked what they can do to help, and gave me cash and turkeys. One [woman] just handed me $40 on the spot. We’re so blessed to live in this community. And it’s so neat that in this economy, they will still be so generous.”
“We are honored to offer this to the truly needy,” she continued.
Reich and Pugh were ecstatic to “sleep in to 7 a.m.,” on Thanksgiving, according to Reich. They were at the restaurant by noon, preparing the turkeys and all the fixings of a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Garcia’s Restaurant, located next door in their new location, provided a tres leches cake, and Lorraine McNeal donated her delicious homemade pumpkin squares for dessert.
Reich and Pugh wanted to make the occasion something nice for their guests. Reich changed out all the tablecloths, made new fall centerpieces for the tables, and a donated set of china dishes was used to create a welcoming ambiance.
“We have had many friends of the coffee house donate money, time and food to pull this off,” said Pugh. “We have many to thank, and we will have to get a list together once it is all done. We currently have more people on the list to help than we have coming to dinner.”
Reich had to tell some of the volunteers they could stay home, because there was just not enough room for all of the volunteers to help.
“We would have individual, personal waiters for each diner,” said Reich with a big laugh.
Volunteers who helped with the dinner included Tori Palmer and Carl Maulbetsch, the “prep team” of Laurie Geromini and Shannon Murphy, Paul and Jean Pristas, and Gary and Margie Kuhlman.
After hearing about the Thanksgiving dinner plans, Palmer went home and asked Maulbetsch if he would be interested in volunteering to help out, to which he replied, “Let’s do it!”
Palmer said she likes to see people smile and appreciate what they do for them, and that it’s good to give.
“These plates piled high with food are just beautiful,” she added.
Reich confided she was almost in tears when regular Michael Weerts showed up around 5:30 p.m. Thursday night to do dishes with his son Alex and Alex’s friend, Callie Middlebrook. Weerts opened his home to community college students who were unable to go home on Thanksgiving, and then went down to Patti’s to help wherever they could.
“This is a delightful collection of community members who understand that sharing is more valuable than receiving,” said Weerts. “Patti and Bill are the epitome of active community members, who give not only monetarily, but also with their time, and that’s why I’m here.”
Williams, Feed My Sheep personnel Joanne Clements and Pat Sprague were also on hand to offer support.
Clements came to the Roaring Fork Valley with Karolyn Spencer, whose passion founded Feed My Sheep. She stated her long-time friend Spencer would have thought the entire evening was marvelous, and that she would have been cheering for the Broncos along with all the homeless. Apparently the big-screen TV was put to work for the game.
The restaurant was closed Thursday for dinner preparations, and will be closed again Friday for a day of rest. It will re-open on Saturday, both as the coffee house in the day and the steakhouse in the evening.
“We often see images and hear stories in the media of suffering going on around the world; pictures and stories that break our hearts,” said Cody Fulk, Feed My Sheep associate director. “We feel insignificant to such a great task, but it’s a good reminder that there’s no greater need than that of your neighbor, and at Feed My Sheep we are simply meeting the needs of our neighbors.”
Feed My Sheep’s overnight program is currently providing shelter for the homeless in Glenwood Springs. It is 60 percent funded, and the organization is seeking more community help.
One Feed My Sheep client came to the organization for help and became registered with FMS because of car trouble. He was stranded in the valley on his way out west and didn’t have any resources to get out. He had no family. He began going to the temporary service upvalley every day. He was with FMS for four months, and during that time he stood in line at the temporary service every day. Every time he got his paycheck, he would give it to someone to hold. He kept $50 from each paycheck for miscellaneous expenses and used the Feed My Sheep branch for laundry, showers, phone, mail and meals services to cut costs. He never missed a day of work while he was here. This strategy helped him build up enough money to get on his feet, finish his trip west and secure an apartment.
This former Feed My Sheep client sends the organization a check now and then to help with its costs. Williams states this client is not an unusual story.
“We are working with good people who are down on their luck and we’re going to do everything we can to help them see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Williams. “With the Winter Overnight Program, we want to make sure no one freezes while in this stage of life.”
To find out how you can help Feed My Sheep, call 928-8340.