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New England Steak & Seafood’s Thanksgiving tradition includes meals for first responders

By Magda Dakin

Fall, family holidays, and great meals all epitomize a New England tradition and nowhere is this more evident than at the New England Steak and Seafood restaurant in Mendon.

Here, one of those traditions for the last 25 years has been the complimentary Thanksgiving meals provided for fire, EMS, and police personnel on duty Thanksgiving Day, in Mendon and ten surrounding communities.  

Sixty-two years in the making, the New England Steak & Seafood remains a unique, family- owned-and-operated restaurant that relies solely on the patronage of local customers and the reliable product they’ve been offering for several generations.

Says James Quirk, co-owner of the restaurant with his brother John, “Our parents struggled and fought to bring their dream to fruition, beginning by purchasing the property in 1954.” Digging the foundation himself, John Quirk and his wife Doris built the original building, finishing it in 1956. Since then it has been expanded eight times, each time maintaining the true New England flavor with which Doris and John Quirk began their project.

“Dad always said he wanted to create ‘a great gathering place for the community,’ and it seems that is the case. A big percentage of our customers are repeat, some coming once a day and others coming once or twice a week, others for special occasions. They’ve become like family and I know most of them by name,” says James, who manages the front of the house.

Cozy tables and good, hearty food keep customers coming back year after year.

Brother John, who’s expertise lies in the kitchen, runs the back of the house with practiced efficiency. Staff turnover is low, and they are trained to “serve customers as they should be served,” as one recent customer was heard saying.

In keeping with New England hospitality, John and James provide an opportunity for customers to easily bring the Thanksgiving tradition home. Although the restaurant is actually closed that day, the staff spends all night and the morning preparing as many as 200 turkeys or around 1,500 meals-to-go.

Customers can order their fresh, never-frozen turkey dinners to take home until Nov. 20 and pick them up on Nov. 22 (Thanksgiving Day) between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The dinners include all the fixings: stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, cranberry sauce and dessert in packages for 12-14 lb. turkey and 22-24 lb. turkey. Cinnamon rolls, onion rolls and pumpkin bread are also available.

“Thanksgiving is the time we want to give back,” says James. In the true spirit of giving, also a New England trait, the brothers say the Turkey Dinners-to-Go program makes it possible to fund their outreach to 11 local communities, feeding hundreds of those who serve us. Restaurant staff donate their time to help distribute the meals to the first responders, police, fire, and EMS personnel on duty the morning of Thanksgiving Day.

To order a dinner-to-go for Thanksgiving, call 508 478-0871. James notes that the convenient service will also be available on Christmas with roast beef dinners.