COLUMBIA — With a new reason to give thanks, the Salvation Army has found a location for its annual Thanksgiving meal: Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken restaurant.
The Columbia Salvation Army, a Christian organization that provides food, clothing and shelter for those in need, found itself in the lurch this week when Everett’s Steak House closed its doors just weeks before Thanksgiving.
Everett’s, which opened in 1987, had hosted the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving meal for the past 16 years.
A woman who answered the phone at Everett’s declined comment.
When the Salvation Army officials heard the news about Everett’s this week, they began scrambling to find alternatives, said Richard Hauschild, a local Salvation Army board member.
“There aren’t many restaurants in town that would fit the criteria,” Hauschild said. “We need at least 100 seats and a decent size kitchen.”
Hauschild said Lee’s restaurant, at 2316 Paris Road, fit the bill.
Lee’s, which opened a Columbia location three years ago, already has a relationship with the Salvation Army. Each day, the restaurant gives the Salvation Army its leftover chicken to help feed more people. And, two years ago, the restaurant offered its location for the Thanksgiving meal.
After meeting at the restaurant this morning, Lee’s was selected for the Nov. 22 lunch.
“They have a big kitchen and are willing to take on whatever they need to do,” said Major Violet Windham of the Salvation Army. “They have a very cooperative spirit.”
This year, the Salvation Army and Meals on Wheels are working together to serve 600 to 800 people along with 200 deliveries to homebound residents.
With hundreds of people expected to attend, the shopping list is fairly large and the organization is going to need several volunteers, Hauschild said.
“Stephens College cooks the turkeys and we cook the vegetables and it will be facilitated at our restaurant,” said John Fisher, owner of the local Lee’s franchise. “Depending on how it goes, this will be an on ongoing tradition.”
Lunch will be served on Thanksgiving from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Fisher said, “but it’s something that has always been on my heart.”