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London restaurant owner dishes up hearty meals for those in need on Thanksgiving

Early Riser Cafe owner Brad Heslop (far right) and his friends teamed up to support community members in need by cooking a classic Thanksgiving meal and delivering it to their front doors.
Early Riser Cafe owner Brad Heslop (far right) and his friends teamed up to support community members in need by cooking a classic Thanksgiving meal and delivering it to their front doors. 980 CFPL

A London restaurant owner is making sure no one goes to bed with an empty stomach on Thanksgiving.

Early Riser Cafe owner Brad Heslop and his friends teamed up to support community members in need by cooking a classic Thanksgiving meal and delivering it to their front doors.

“We got them turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce and gravy,” Heslop tells 980 CFPL.

Heslop made roughly 30 turkey dinners to give out to community members.
Heslop made roughly 30 turkey dinners to give out to community members. 980 CFPL

Ever since purchasing the restaurant a year and a half ago, Heslop has been giving back to the community whenever he can.

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As each Thanksgiving and Christmas rolls around, Heslop puts on his chef’s shirt and works his kitchen magic to produce warm and hearty meals for all who need it.

“I didn’t know that he was so caring and sensitive in listening to people’s feelings and needs,” Heslop’s friend Cole Zavitz tells 980 CFPL.

“He’s just better than I thought before,” chuckled Zavitz. “He’s great.”

READ MORE: London Food Bank’s fall collection drive gets a boost in donations

Instead of taking Thanksgiving Monday off, Heslop jumped out of bed at 6 a.m. and spent the next eight hours cooking his own recipes to feed the community.

The group of five volunteers then gathered together and delivered roughly 90 home-cooked meals all across London.

Heslop’s friends Cole Zavitz and Noel Grasso are landscapers who volunteered their holiday to become delivery drivers.

Grasso, the owner of Grasso Landscaping, says he’s seen all sorts of reactions from those who receive these free meals.

“Lots of people were overjoyed that they could even have a (big) meal on Thanksgiving.”

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“A lot of people didn’t even know (food) was coming. They had their significant other or their parents order for them.”

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Zavitz is the owner of London Lawn Pros and says the feeling of giving back beats munching on turkey.

“Oh, it feels great! This is the best thing ever… It’s better than going home and eating my own meal, I’d rather make people smile.”

“I get Thanksgiving every year, so if I can go and help one time, then it’s worth it.”

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READ MORE: It’s not charity, it’s a gift: Kingstonians help to put meals on tables for Thanksgiving

In the upcoming years, Heslop says he’s hoping to expand his volunteer base and reach out to more people.

Heslop tells 980 CFPL he’s got his vision set on transforming other major holidays into a give-back-to-the-community day, and his ultimate goal is to provide free meals on a regular basis regardless of holidays.

“A lot of people that we’re dealing with do have mental illness or are dealing with other types of struggles… everyone is pretty grateful.”

Heslop’s other friends Emily Brock and Justin Marcovecchio are also recognized for their support in this initiative.