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Eastpointe restaurant gives free meals and companionship on Thanksgiving

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published December 9, 2019

  From left, City Councilwoman Sarah Lucido,  Mayor Monique Owens and City Councilman Harvey Curley, of Eastpointe, pitch in at Donna’s Family Dining on Thanksgiving Day, as the restaurant gave free meals to local residents.

From left, City Councilwoman Sarah Lucido, Mayor Monique Owens and City Councilman Harvey Curley, of Eastpointe, pitch in at Donna’s Family Dining on Thanksgiving Day, as the restaurant gave free meals to local residents.

Photo provided by Monique Owens

  Traditional Thanksgiving meals are ready to be served to customers for free on Thanksgiving.

Traditional Thanksgiving meals are ready to be served to customers for free on Thanksgiving.

Photo provided by Al Grishaj

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EASTPOINTE — Each year, Donna’s Family Dining in Eastpointe gets into the spirit of Thanksgiving by offering members of the community a free meal and a place to spend the holiday with others.

Located at 10 Mile and Kelly roads, the Grishaj family, which owns the restaurant, cooked up some traditional Thanksgiving treats for people and gave them out for no cost between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“We’ve done it for six years now,” said Al Grishaj, one of the owners. “We started out in 2013, and the very first year we had just gotten everything set up and the business started, so my mom said, ‘I’m going to cook for everybody,’ and that we would cook food for everyone for free. It’s a great way to make sure even people who don’t have big families or who can’t afford to have a good meal have a place to sit down and eat a meal with other people.”

His mother is Drande Grishaj, who often goes by “Donna,” and she is the namesake of the restaurant. Al Grishaj said his family members are inspired to do this because they feel close to the people they serve.

“Since we’re a small, family-owned business, we understand the middle class a little better than a lot of places,” he said. “We like being able to bring people closer and start something good, even though you hear about all these bad things. It’s the best feeling in the world to give people a good meal when they need it.”

This year, the Grishaj family was joined by several members of the Eastpointe City Council.

“They called and invited me this year, and I invited the council,” said Mayor Monique Owens. “(Council members) Sarah Lucido and Harvey Curley were also present. We fed people from Eastpointe and all the neighboring communities. We greeted people, served coffee and served food. It was very nice.”

Owens said she was very proud of and impressed by the way the Grishaj family was giving back and working to help the community.

“It ties in with Thanksgiving very well, but they do a lot for people all year-round,” she said. “All the food they had left over they gave to the police, so they could have a good meal even though they couldn’t spend the day with their families.”

Al Grishaj said it’s a great way to give back to the people who come into the restaurant throughout the year. He said that giving people a place to spend the holiday and providing other people to spend it with can be even more important than the food.

“We also see it as a way to give back to our customers,” he remarked. “We did the mashed potatoes, the stuffing, the turkey, the gravy, drinks. It was all 100% free. Some people tip, but we wanted to make sure everyone was able to get something good on the holiday.”

Owens said that Donna’s is an example of giving back to the community.

“It shows that a lot of people who don’t have a lot of money still give back,” Owens said. “You have a lot of million-dollar businesses and million-dollar restaurants who don’t do what they did. It shows that the people at Donna’s have a big heart, and the people of Eastpointe have a lot to give.”

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