VERNON, Conn — The holidays aren’t easy on everyone. It’s been several years since David Gagnon lost his father, Bertrand. To honor him on Thanksgiving Day, he headed to Craig’s Kitchen in Rockville for some special sweet potatoes.
“My father loved his sweet potatoes,” he said of Craig’s Kitchen owner Craig Wright. “Having [my dad] not in our lives. It’s important to have someone like Craig here in this place to share that love and open heart.”
Gagnon is one of several dozen people in Rockville for soul food from Craig’s Kitchen. Some had food catered. But most of the faces in and out of this five-year-old eatery came for a free thanksgiving meal.
Wright hosts an annual Thanksgiving Feast as a tribute to the community that helped owner Craig Wright rebound after a robbery in 2018. Meals are free for anyone who stops by between noon and 3 p.m.
“I’ve been there before so I know how those people feel. I know how it feels to not have anywhere to go. I know how it feels to be without,” Wright said.
It’s become a tradition for five years in a row. Starting after thieves robbed the cash register back in 2018, one year after the business first opened its doors.
A local Facebook group and raised enough money to help Wright buy a security system and get back on his feet. Now, he gives back to the community.
“I’ve been here since 4 o’clock this morning. I left here last night at 11 o’clock,” he said. “The phone’s ringing off the hook. But it’s not about me.”
Craig’s journey has been a long one. What he describes as “foolish decisions” landed him in and out of Connecticut correctional institutions.
“The light was able to click on. That doesn’t happen for everyone. Fortunately, that happened to me and I was young enough for it to really impact my life.”
Nine years later, he’s cooking up soul food for Rockville and feeding the homeless and heartbroken on Thanksgiving Day.
“I wouldn’t be here without you or the community,” Wright told Gagnon.
People also had their Thanksgiving food catered. The Lipkins brothers live in different states and haven’t shared a warm meal together in far too long.
Donald Lipkins is from New York and is visiting his brother.
“But the problem is we don’t cook, so we had to come up with an idea and here we are picking up the food," Lipkins said.
Craig also has loyal customers that enjoy his food.
“The food is great, and the people are great, and Craig is excellent,” said Eric Berte of East Hartford.
Samaia Hernandez is a reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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