Twin Pines Diner Hosting Free Thanksgiving Dinners Requested by East Haven Vets, Seniors
Twin Pines Diner will serve up free Thanksgiving meals (dine in or take out) on Thurs. Nov. 26, to any East Haven military veterans, elderly residents or in-need community members who call in advance to request a meal. The meals are being hosted by the diner as part of an effort organized by East Haven attorney Andrew Amendola and a small group of his East Haven friends who tallied up $5,000 in sponsorship funding. Pam Johnson/East Haven Courier )
When Twin Pines Diner owner Jim Triantis got a call asking if he would be willing to help a local group of donors dish up free Thanksgiving meals for East Haven veterans, seniors and other community residents in need, the answer was, of course, "yes."
"I never say no," said Triantis. "We've been here 40 years now in East Haven, helping with everything and everybody around the town. Anybody asks, we never say no."
As a result, Twin Pines Diner will serve up the free Thanksgiving meals (dine in or take out) on Thurs. Nov. 26, to any East Haven military veterans, elderly residents or in-need community members who call in advance to request a meal. Triantis and the diner staff will be putting out the meals to assist an effort organized by East Haven attorney Andrew "Andy" Amendola with financial help from a handful of Amendola's local friends, who quickly answered a request for sponsorship donations which tallied up $5,000. Sponsors are Mark DiLungo of DFG Electric Company; Ken Horton of Horton Enterprises; Albert DeLucia of Porto Funeral Home; Neil Angelini of East Haven Dunkin' Donuts; Anthony Bianco, Gerard Bianco and Lou Rivera of A & G Contracting and Don Herzog of East River Energy.
"He's such a very nice guy," said Triantis of Amendola. "I can't believe the way he cares for the people. He was very grateful for us helping out; but we're all together, helping out."
Amendola also raised an additional $5,000 from Branford friends to put on the same type of Thanksgiving program for Branford vets, seniors and citizens in need at the Parthenon Diner Restaurant in Branford; with assistance from Parthenon owner John Sousoulas.
Amendola said both Triantis and Sousoulas have also offered to cover any extra costs, should more dinners need to be provided than anticipated.
"We're hoping to assist about 400 or 500 per diner," said Amendola. "And if there's more, the diners are going to absorb it – they'll take care of what's left."
"Even if they run out of money, it's okay, we're still going to donate it," Triantis confirmed. "We're not going to refuse anybody."
Twin Pines is planning to serve up a $15 Thanksgiving dinner special which includes soup, salad, dinner (choice of turkey or Virginia ham) with all the trimmings and dessert.
"We're going to have all kinds of good things for the day," said Triantis.
The diner's open 24 hours a day, including on Thanksgiving Day; and diners will have access to their meals to pick up or eat in.
"We're going to be serving inside the diner up to 9:30 p.m. Then from 9:30 p.m. to morning, we'll be open 24 hours to go; so it's okay even if they want to take it to go after 9:30 at night."
Twin Pines Diner is located at 34 Main St. in East Haven, where Triantis has enjoyed being among his loyal patrons for four decades and counting, including on Thanksgiving Day.
"I spend the day there every Thanksgiving, the last 40 years. Most of the business is in the afternoon. People come in constantly -- at 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock until about 8 o'clock," said Triantis. "It makes you feel good because these people, they appreciate it. Even now, with this pandemic, we stay open as much as we can, maybe more than anyone else. You have a lot of older people who don't cook, and I can see they appreciate what we do for them."
Triantis and his staff are looking forward to serving the special Thanksgiving meals this year to East Haven's military veterans, senior citizens and other community members in need.
"It's a very nice thing. It makes you feel good when you do things for people," said Triantis. "They support me year 'round; so it feels good when you can give back to them. We do whatever we can to help. There's no question about it."
Amendola said he's grateful for the support shown by both host restaurant owners and from donor friends in both towns who stepped up to help out in these unprecedented times. He also said he's now working on an idea for a Christmas support program (more information to come).
To qualify to receive a free Thanksgiving dinner from Twin Pines Diner, East Haven military veterans, senior citizens and residents in need are asked to call now (and no later than Wed. Nov. 25) at (203) 468-6887, ask for the manager or owner, and provide your name, address and telephone number for verification. Twin Pines Diner is located at 34 Main St. in East Haven.