For decades, people have counted on Chuck’s Restaurant for a hot meal on Thanksgiving day, but this November it was put up for sale leaving the fate of the restaurant and its long time traditions up in the air.
It’s a Des Moines tradition dating back more than 30 years.
The annual Thanksgiving meal at Chuck’s serves thousands of free meals to those who otherwise would go without.
When long-time Chuck’s owner Linda Bisignano passed away in November there was a fear the annual meal did too.
“It`s very important to us, it`s something we’ve been doing since ’83 or ‘84, and it`s just kind of in our blood,” says Linda Tullis of Des Moines.
Tullis helps organize the event, and learned the meal will go on.
“It really makes us feel good to know that they will do this and this was Linda’s wishes that whoever bought the restaurant had to continue with these meals,” says Tullis.
It’s all possible because of life-long Des Moines resident Emily Anderson.
“I started to fall in love with the place and the idea of it and looking at the articles there is so much history it`s just a good place to be,” says Anderson.
Anderson bought Chuck’s and with it made a promise to the Bisignano family to continue the Parks Community Thanksgiving Dinner.
“It was something that I wrote into the purchase agreement, knowing that it was something that needs to continue on. It’s not really an option, it`s been here for so long, it`s part of Chuck`s, it`s part of their tradition, it`s something I would not change,” says Anderson.
New ownership doesn’t mean new changes.
Other than a new computer system, Chuck’s will keep the same staff, menu, music, and longtime traditions. It’s the way Linda would have wanted it.
“She`s very irreplaceable type of personality but I’m hoping I can achieve what she was,” says Anderson.
Tullis is glad Bigignano’s legacy will live on.
“That`s always a good feeling to know that Linda’s still giving back to us, we miss her terribly, but this is a way we can continue to honor her spirit,” says Tullis.
Anderson will take over on Monday and will close the restaurant until the 10th while the new computer system is being installed.
She says she’s looking forward to the Thanksgiving dinner, which last year served 3,700 people across Des Moines.