Every year those who are poor or down on their luck during the holidays may have few opportunities to partake in the festivities. But a local business owner has started a tradition, offering an open invitation to the community. His name is Ziyad Samara and he owns Sgt. Pepper’s Cafe in Springfield. The Beatles themed restaurant which normally serves diner food is open from 12pm to 2pm on Thanksgiving to serve meals free of charge.
Samara moved to the United States from Kuwait in 1971, he has been in Springfield for over 30 years and says the free holiday meals are his way of giving back to the community. Samara and his two sons also own another restaurant of the same name in Edwardsville. That location will have a free Christmas meal this year and next year will do the free Thanksgiving meal as well. The Springfield location has been serving free Thanksgiving and Christmas meals since 1999. Rachel Otwell recently spoke with Samara about the tradition: