Highlands restaurant hosts Thanksgiving for refugees - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Highlands restaurant hosts Thanksgiving for refugees

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LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- A Highlands restaurant opened its doors on Thanksgiving to refugee families who now call Louisville home.

El Camino served dinner to 269 refugees Thursday.

Families from countries like Syria, Iraq and Cuba filled the restaurant.

“I was just sitting in my living room watching the news and getting online in the wake of the Paris attacks and reading a lot of the negative commentary and backlash surrounding the refugee crisis and I was just getting so sad about all the things I was reading and I knew that wasn't representative of the Louisville I live in and the Louisville I love,” said Vanessa Cantley, owner of El Camino.

Cantley and her business partners decided to open their doors to refugees but they couldn't do it alone.

“We've had over 2,000 emails in support and we have over 200 volunteers and this all came together in the last 3 to 4 days,” she told WDRB.

The restaurant has also been accepting donations for refugee families and are running out of places to put everything.

“We've had to move into extra storage in the attic. It's been unbelievable. Kids toys and clothes and winter coats and we've just been humbled by the compassion,” she said.

The offerings were a little different than the normal food you'd expect to see on El Camino's menu.

"For most of our guests, it's their first Thanksgiving in America so we wanted to bring our traditions with theirs so we have a menu full of American traditions-turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy and also some traditional dishes from their home countries,” said Cantley.

The restaurant worked with Kentucky Refugee Ministries to provide transportation to the restaurant.

Cantley says the experience has been overwhelming.

“A week ago I was in tears in my living room for the wrong reasons and now I'm in tears for the right ones,” she said.

Cantley says she hopes to do something similar next year.


El Camino adds second Thanksgiving dinner for refugees, seeks volunteers to help

Highlands restaurant to serve Thanksgiving dinner to refugees

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