Angela’s serves Christmas dinner for 1,000
By Janelle Bitker
Park Street seemed extra joyous Saturday afternoon, with kids showing off brand new toys and parents satisfied after a free, delicious turkey dinner. It wasn’t Santa spreading this holiday cheer, however, but community members who gathered at Angela’s Bistro and Bar to feed an estimated 1,000 Island residents on Christmas Day.
Angela’s chef and co-owner Saboor Zafari formulated the idea of feeding the entire community on Christmas. And a collection of local business owners – and dozens of volunteers – helped make it happen. Dan’s Fresh Produce donated fresh broccoli and cranberries, Facciola Meat Company in Fremont gave over 100 turkeys, Tucker’s provided ice cream, the Bank of Alameda donated money and regular Alameda citizens came by the restaurant all month to contribute funds.
“The idea has been really well received by the community,” said Bill Williford, one of the owners of Angela’s. “At first it looked like we’d be taking a big hit (financially), but it doesn’t look like that’ll be the case anymore.”
More than 70 volunteers came out to serve the community and prep food in the days leading up to the meal. Volunteers carved turkeys and cooked 800 pounds of potatoes, and even young kids helped by scraping plates and washing dishes. (Full disclosure: This reporter also volunteered at the event.)
“I can’t believe how many people came out and volunteered,” said Roy Creekstone, another of the restaurant’s owners.
“Yes, especially on Christmas,” added Ed Therrien, an organizer of the dinner.
While much of the cooking was done at Angela’s, more than 25 turkeys were cooked in New York Pizza’s oven and another 28 in the Creekstones’ own home.
Carmel Ish-Shalom of CIS-Associates donated two truckloads of brand new toys, which he personally handed out to the children present. Meanwhile Kyle Connor, operator the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex, contributed to the event by allowing all diners free admission to see “True Grit.” He bused tables, too.
At the end of the day, Therrien estimated that about 1,000 community members came to Angela’s to eat. “It was a real cross-section of people,” he said. “There were people with means and people without, but everyone was appreciative.”
The Angela’s crew’s food estimates turned out to be accurate — they didn’t have too much leftover and only ran out of gravy. Leftover food was then donated to the Alameda Food Bank.
Williford said the dinner was “a stirring success all around,” and he hopes it can become an annual tradition.
“This is a way of thanking the community for treating us so well over the last 18 months,” he said.