HUMBOLDT PARK — A Humboldt Park restaurant that specializes in turkey 365 days of the year stepped up to provide those in need in Humboldt Park with their own turkeys Monday afternoon.
Turkey Chop Gourmet Grill gave away 250 turkeys Monday, ahead of its annual free Thanksgiving dinner, which will be held Thursday.
More than 1,000 people identified as in need or homeless are expected at Thursday's feast at the restaurant, 3506 W. Chicago Ave.
"West Humboldt Park has a large number of homeless, including entire families, and the drug problem is horrendous," said Turkey Chop's owner Quentin Love. "I wanted to show the community that people care and give those down on their luck an opportunity to embrace what’s good for them, starting with what they put in their bodies."
Love, 43, started a weekly free meal initiative at his restaurant in March 2014 with help from the West Humboldt Park Development Council and partnership with the Chicago Food Depository.
Aside from the Thanksgiving events, the restaurant turns into a soup kitchen every Monday from 1-3 p.m.
"We thought West Humboldt Park was in need of some hope," Love said.
Turkey Chop has provided free meals to 53,000 residents since the start of the program, according to the restaurant.
"It's to continue to inspire hope and let people know its not all bad," Love said. "We have enough bad things going on in the news and in our community. That’s not true. There's a lot of great things going on."
On Mondays, the Chicago Food Depository buys most of the food served, while Love picks up the tab for the rest from restaurant proceeds.
The former U.S. Marine has been in the restaurant business for nearly 15 years.
Turkey Chop has been open for three years.
"It's not just a holiday thing. This is a life mission for us," he said.
Keep an eye out for Love, as he recently competed on Guy Fieri's "Guy's Grocery Games" on the Food Network in a Veterans Holiday Showdown special.
He competed against veterans of the Army, Navy and Air Force in the episode.
The show is set to air on Dec. 14, which is coincidentally Love's birthday.
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