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Tradition on pause: Skyland Restaurant closes for Thanksgiving 2021, won’t be giving out free meals

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 6:35 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Skyland Restaurant has become legendary for its tradition of handing out free Thanksgiving meals to all those in the community.

For the first time in 28 years, they won’t be doing that as the restaurant will be closed.

“So I decided to give back to the community and to the people who support me all these years,” said owner Jimmy Kakavitsas.

It’s an unusual but welcomed tradition in Charlotte, spanning more than two decades.

“There was no limit. We give away whatever they want to pick up,” Kakavitsas said.

In 2020, Skyland Restaurant gave away more than 3,000 boxes of turkey dinners.

Not just for low-income people, but all those who lined up outside their doors.

It hurts owner Kakavitsas to know that won’t be happening this year.

“Feels bad, was [a] very hard decision to make but I cannot do it myself,” Kakavitsas said.

COVID and the labor shortage impacted his decision to close.

“I used to be 24 hours here, I used to have more than 30 employees, now I have only 10, 12,” Kakavitsas said.

The owner says it’s difficult finding the staff and rising food costs.

“Very expensive,” said Kakavitsas. “The food is up 300% from the time last year.”

CNN reports as inflation surges, food prices have risen by nearly 1% for two months in a row.

“I hope things get better and next year we go back to normal schedule,” Kakavitsas said.

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