LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)– While many give thanks for what they have on Thanksgiving, others take it a step further by giving back to the community.
For the past 24-years, Bailey’s Restaurant in Lafayette has been serving up Thanksgiving meals in a fine dining settings.
While the holidays are usually spent with friends and family, this restaurant owner spends the day giving back to the community that taught him the true meaning of the holidays.
Bailey’s may look like your typical fine dining restaurant on Thanksgiving. There are fancy linens, nice plants and waiters taking orders, but there’s one thing missing.
There is not bill after the meal.
Ema Haq, the owner came to Lafayette in the 80’s from Bangladesh for college. “You know for my first year, it was 83’ and a friend of mine invited me to his house and as I told you, I had no idea what was Thanksgiving and as a student where there’s food, you go.”
At the time Haq didn’t know this simple meal his friend invited him to would change his life.
“That was such a great feeling you know?” said Haq, “So special. I remember that very well and of course that family became my family.”
In 1993, Haq opened Baliey’s and has been serving Thanksgiving dinner free of charge ever since.
“At that time I decided, I said, look, this community has been so great to me for decades and this was the best way to show my appreciation and give back.”
That same spirit of giving has been passed on through volunteers.
Ryan Petticrew and his two children have made volunteering on Thanksgiving a family tradition.
“My dad got me started.” Said, Petticrew, “he’s volunteering here too, he’s been a good friend of Ema’s. So it’s kind of part of our Thanksgiving tradition now.”
Volunteers deliver around 800 meals all over Acadiana. They also offer rides to and from the restaurant, all to make someone’s holiday a little better.
“but at the end of the day,” said Haq, “the most selfish one is me because it makes me so happy.”