30 Years of Stuffing and Service at the Windmill Family Restaurant

Amid the pandemic, a local restaurant continues to serve free Thanksgiving meals

Kosmas Smirnioudis (left) and his oldest brother George are continuing their father Louie’s 30-year tradition of giving out free Thanksgiving meals. Photos by Jared Charney

Thanksgiving at the Windmill Family Restaurant in Concord may look different this year, but COVID-19 won’t stop owner Kosmas Smirnioudis and his restaurant family from serving turkey dinners to his community in need. “People won’t be able to come, sit down and enjoy a meal with us inside, but they can still pick up and take out a Thanksgiving dinner,” says Smirnioudis. “For us, this tradition has and always will be about the importance of giving back to the community, and I could think of no better time to safely adapt and continue that tradition than during a year like this.” 

Smirnioudis’ father, Louie, started the tradition when he opened the restaurant in 1990. The first year, he started with a couple of volunteers from the Friendly Kitchen and served about 30 meals. The tradition has now grown so large that Smirnioudis served 1,200 meals in 2019, and he isn’t planning on slowing down this year. “Last year, we did over 300 pounds of mashed potatoes and squash, 72 turkeys and pies ranging from pumpkin to blueberry to chocolate cream,” says Smirnioudis. “We didn’t have much left over after, which showed just how much people were in need. It was a tough decision, but we are looking forward to showing up and serving again this year.”

While Smirnioudis is grateful to give back, he is just as grateful for the extra help from family and friends that makes the day possible. “I have a group of ladies who bake and donate homemade pies to us every year, families come with their kids to donate their time, and fellow members of my business community come help too,” says Smirnioudis. “We’re one team. They aren’t my community, they are my family. It’s all about being able to come together one day a year to think about someone else instead of yourself, and even though it will look different due to pandemic restrictions, the heart of it is still the same.”

Meals will be offered between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on November 26, and all you need to do is show up if you need a meal. Depending on weather, there may be chairs outside, but expect tables at both entrances of the restaurant stocked high with hot turkey dinner to-go containers with mashed potatoes, squash, turkey gravy, pies, rolls, cranberry sauce and vegetables. Whether you are volunteering your pies, volunteering your time, donating rolls or making a cash donation, the day is all about making a difference in whatever way you can. “My dad started this so people would follow his generous lead in making a change,” says Smirnioudis. “He realized that they only way to inspire difference is to do different, which is what we are here to do every Thanksgiving.” 

Other businesses looking for Thanksgiving volunteers, donations or donated meals:

The Friendly Kitchen
2 South Commercial St., Concord
(603) 224-7678 / thefriendlykitchen.org

New Horizons NH
199 Manchester St., Manchester
(603) 641-9441 / newhorizonsnh.org

Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter
2 Quincy St., Nashua
(603) 889-7770 / nsks.org

Sonshine Soup Kitchen
6 Crystal Ave., Derry
(603) 437-2833 / sonshinesoupkitchen.org

The Community Kitchen
37 Mechanic St., Keene
(603) 352-3200 / thecommunitykitchen.org

Categories: People