Rusty’s cooks up a feast |

Rusty’s cooks up a feast

When the brothers Dioguardi bought Rusty’s Hickory House on Main Street in September 1998, they inherited an Aspen Thanksgiving Day tradition of umpteen years.

And the annual event – a free Thanksgiving Day dinner for any and all community members and friends – is one that Brian and Paul Dioguardi plan to continue.

“Paul and I come from a huge family,” Brian said yesterday, “and we always had huge Thanksgiving Day gatherings. Our mom always cooked two, twenty-pound birds, but it looks like we’ll outdo her this year – by about forty-eight turkeys.”

Brian and Paul, and the entire Hickory House staff, as well as a slew of volunteers, are working at this very moment to prepare the feast, which will feature some 50 turkeys, two 50-pound roasts of beef, 500 pounds of mashed potatoes, 250 pounds of stuffing, 110 pounds of green beans and assorted veggies, along with dozens of pies – apple, pumpkin and otherwise.

Last year, a similar quantity of food fed between 1,000 and 1,200 hungry folks, Brian estimated, and raised $2,500 for the Aspen Camp School for the Deaf.

On Thanksgiving, the Hickory House will open for its normal breakfast service, from 6 a.m. till noon, and at 1 p.m., it will reopen for the feast until all the food is gone. Last year, the rations ran out at about 8 p.m., Brian said.

“Everyone is welcome to come,” Brian said, “it’s for the whole community. We just ask that people donate whatever they can.”

Donations received at Thursday’s feast will go toward the Aspen Community Holiday Baskets Program. The program, cooperatively organized by several local churches and community organizations such as the Rotary Club, benefits needy families during the holiday season, Brian said.

While the Hickory House puts out the feast, the community dinner is largely a community effort, Brian added.

“All the food is donated,” he said. Tong Luu, the Dioguardis’ landlord, donated the turkeys; Alliant food distributors of Denver donated the roast beef, vegetables, and mashers; Pepsi donated the soda; and the Main Street Bakery donated all the stuffing and table bread, and most of the pies.

Nevertheless, Brian said, volunteers are still needed to help with all facets of the event, beginning with setup today.

“We were happy to inherit this Thanksgiving Day tradition,” Brian said, “and we’re happy to keep it going. As long as Paul and I are owners, there will definitely be a Thanksgiving Day dinner right here.”

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