A bountiful Thanksgiving feast isn’t a guarantee. It’s often a luxury many cannot afford. And some people don’t have the option of spending the holiday with family. But in Pittsburgh, a certain Mama makes sure a good Thanksgiving dinner is attainable for all.
Mama Ros’ Sandwich Shop, also known as The Bloomfield Sandwich Shop, has been providing free Thanksgiving meals to anyone who needs it for 12 years. The shop on Liberty Avenue serves about 200 Thanksgiving meals per year, but anticipates about 400 diners this Thursday.
“It's open to everyone and anyone, not specifically the homeless. It's just about giving back to the community and sharing a meal with your fellow Pittsburgher,”
said Jon Potter, who has been lending a hand
to Mama Ros’ this year. “We are also delivering 130 meals to people who are not able to make it to the store that day.”
The shop can support this increase thanks in part to an Indiegogo.com initiative
that raised $3,000 last spring
. Mama Ros’ Sandwich Shop customers took to the crowdfunding website to help the local business known for helping others after a particularly hard winter affected funds.
While eating at Mama Ros’ earlier this year, Jonathan Tai, a magician, and Potter, a local jack-of-all trades paraglider and hostel owner
, met the Mama and the Papa themselves, Rosalyn Dukes and her partner Mike Miller. Tai and Potter were inspired to help them raise money for the shop by launching the online campaign.
In a previous interview, Tai said the restaurant has a reputation for wanting to feed everyone, even those who can’t always afford it. That’s not just on Thanksgiving, but 365 days a year. The campaign, which reached its $3,000 goal, helped Dukes and Miller continue to do just that.
A video on the Indiegogo.com page discusses the mom and pop’s annual Thanksgiving feast. “We try every year, as best we can, to serve as many people as we can a free Thanksgiving dinner,” Dukes says in the clip.
She added that patrons are welcome to eat in the diner, or they can take the traditional turkey dinner home with them. The meals are pay what you can or pay nothing at all. Last November, Mama Ros’ served more than 15 20-pound turkeys.
“It’s for everybody,” Miller adds in the video. “College kids that can’t come home. People that have families who just can’t, right now, afford to have a good turkey dinner.”
Potter said the community rallied around the shop; now, this is Mama Ros’ way of giving back.
“The purpose was to get them back on their feet because they help the community so much. Because of the help the community gave back, they are able to put on their annual free Thanksgiving meal,” he said.
Potter added that the campaign also helped spread awareness about the shop and its mission to feed people, even when they can’t afford to pay.
“When you go there, you feel like you’re sitting in your mom’s kitchen … that’s why it’s so special,” he said.
Potter said 400 pounds of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and green beans will be served at Mama Ros’ on Thanksgiving Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Source: Jon Potter, Indiegogo “Saving Mama Ros' Sandwich Shop”