Thanksgiving Day 2020: Anchorage businesses serve up hot, free meals by drive-thru

Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 4:42 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Thanksgiving Day traditions in Anchorage looked different this year, but the pandemic didn’t stop local businesses from giving back to the community by serving hundreds of hot, free meals.

Cars zigzagged through the Kriner’s Diner parking lot bumper to bumper Thursday. The line was backed up for a few blocks on C Street.

As cars reached the drive-thru window, most drivers handed over cash and checks, donations for The Children’s Lunchbox, an Anchorage nonprofit organization that the diner’s owners support.

“This is crazy,” said owner Andy Kriner, looking at the turn out for his drive-up only event. “If somebody showed me this picture a year ago, I couldn’t have imagined why we would do this, but now I’m starting to like it, it’s actually kind of nice, it gives me the whole inside to work with.”

Many people patiently waiting in line for their meal were faithful customers, used to eating a Thanksgiving feast inside the diner every year.

“We can’t go inside, which I hate, but right now it’s a lot safer because we stay in our car and drive up,” said Darin Colbry, who said he was looking forward to eating stuffing and pumpkin pie.

Kriner said he would hand out meals made from scratch until he ran out of food. He estimated he could serve about 400 people Thursday.

“It’s been a tough year,” he said. “Everybody got a big bag of lemons. We’re just making lemonade.”

In Mountain View, another local business was handing out hot, free meals. The Mt. View Shell gas station provides hundreds of meals on Thanksgiving Day every year, as a way to give back to the community.

This year, employee Glen Ellis said they opened up a previously boarded-up drive-thru window, since they couldn’t bring people inside.

“The community keeps us alive,” Ellis said. “If it wasn’t for the community, we wouldn’t survive. [...] To be able to do things for the community, they appreciate that and they give back to us by coming here and being faithful.”

Ellis said this year, they’ve seen half of their typical business due to the pandemic, but the owner is serving a big meal just the same.

“She appreciates the neighbors, she appreciates the neighborhood,” he said. “They support her, she supports them, and that’s what a community does.”

People in line found their own ways to give back. Karly Booker said she shows up for the meal every year and takes extra meals to deliver to people who are experiencing homelessness and are not able to walk to the gas station.

“We all need the help,” said Booker. “We all are going through struggles at the moment, money issues, housing, no matter what it is, it’s just good to know that you have somebody there to help you.”

Ellis said he expected they’d serve between 700 and 800 meals Thursday.

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