The Thanksgiving holiday is viewed by many as a day to gather with friends and family over a home cooked meal, perhaps catch up on the latest scuttlebutt and maybe even catch an NFL game on television. One local couple includes all of the above in their holiday celebration, and has been for the last 18 years, with one minor difference; their doors are open to anyone with an empty belly who cares to stop by.
Dennis and Traci Fick, owners of DAT Bar, have been assembling a Turkey-Day spread for almost as long as they have known each other. And each and every year, they open their dinner table to anyone and everyone who cares to join them. No questions asked, no payment accepted.
As Dennis explains, the entire idea of sharing their holiday with friends, family and complete strangers date back to his childhood and his parents’ Christmas celebration.
“My mom and dad owned Irv & Darlene’s Hour Place and every Christmas Eve they would invite anyone who didn’t already have some place or someone to celebrate Christmas with, over to our house to spend Christmas Eve with our family. Anyone was welcome, whether it was friends, family or patrons from the bar. I can remember having as many as 15-20 people over for Christmas,” he adds. “My parents felt nobody should spend Christmas alone and that’s how we feel about Thanksgiving.”
“Thanksgiving is the one day a year where everyone deserves a home cooked meal,” Traci adds with a smile.
As she further explains, the Ficks’ Feast features all the traditional Thanksgiving tasties including ham, turkey, homemade mashed potatoes, corn and dessert.
The couple begins cooking and preparations every Thanksgiving around 6 a.m. with, with serving beginning at 1 p.m.
“It’s not a buffet style meal, but more of your average home cooked meal where everyone grabs a plate and serves up whatever they like,” Traci said.
The feast remains open for as long as there are hungry mouths to feed, but usually wraps up around 6 p.m. Thanksgiving evening. Once everyone has wandered off to enjoy their turkey comas, the Ficks follow suit.
“This is something we look forward to every year,” Dennis adds. “We usually average 20-30 people with some years as many as 50. Of course our regular customers and good friends stop in, and every year we have people stop in who we have never met and in some cases haven’t seen since. But that’s perfectly fine with us, as long as everyone walks out of here with a full belly and hopefully a smile on their face.”
When asked about cost or the amount of effort required to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner, much less a dinner to feed so many people for close to the last 20 years, the couple glances at each other momentarily and smile a bit.
“It doesn’t matter,” Traci said. “We don’t look at it as something we have to work to do. We have always looked forward to putting dinner together and we take a lot of pride in it. We don’t advertise or anything, we never have. We just make it known; anyone and everyone is welcome to join us for dinner. Good food makes people happy, and if you leave our dinner table happy, then you made it worthwhile for us.”
The 18th annual free Thanksgiving dinner will once again be open to anyone and will begin at 1 p.m. on Thursday at DAT Bar, located at 1404 W. Main St. No reservations please.