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Giving Thanks With 200 Free Dinners: By PATRICK GALVIN Special to the Planet

By PATRICK GALVIN Special to the Planet
Friday November 26, 2004

On Wednesday about 200 hungry East Bay residents enjoyed a free Thanksgiving feast with carved turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, fresh vegetables, and bread at Ann’s Kitchen, a restaurant at 2498 Telegraph Ave. 

For the past 14 years, David and Suki An, husband and wife owners of Ann’s Kitchen Restaurant, have prepared and served a holiday feast to anyone who shows up hungry at their restaurant the day before Thanksgiving. 

The Ans came to the United States from South Korea 29 years ago. After selling his San Francisco hofbrau restaurant, David An purchased Ann’s Kitchen fourteen years ago. Since the name of the restaurant was so similar to his last name, David decided to stick with the original moniker. 

Although Ann’s Kitchen is well-known for its hearty breakfasts and lunches, David enjoys cooking the most traditional American dinner. 

“Before coming to America, I had never tried turkey, but I learned how to cook it when I ran my San Francisco hofbrau,” said David An. 

“I feel grateful that I’ve done so well in this country, and it just seems right that I give something back to others who are less fortunate,” said David An. 

David and Suki’s two children, a UC Berkeley senior and an Oakland high school student, have helped out during the annual free Thanksgiving meal since it began.  

The majority of people who eat at Ann’s Kitchen on the day before Thanksgiving are homeless and needy East Bay residents. But, there are always some UC Berkeley students and people alone for the holidays that come to enjoy the camaraderie of sharing a holiday meal with others. 

“I wish that everybody had enough to eat. But, it seems like there are more hungry people every year who need a free meal,” said David An. 

In spite of working so hard to cook a Thanksgiving meal for hundreds on the day before Thanksgiving, David said he was looking forward to preparing a Thanksgiving meal for his family the following day. 

“I wouldn’t miss Thanksgiving for anything—especially the cranberry sauce,” he said.