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Manna will carry on traditional community Thanksgiving in Durango

Restaurants and stores open Thursday for families looking for easier holiday experience
Shawn Haught, kitchen facility manager at Manna soup kitchen, and Megan Fenerbacher, culinary manager at Manna, carry food from the freezer to continue to prepare the food for Thanksgiving Day dinners on Tuesday at Manna. The kitchen staff and volunteers have cooked 40 turkeys, and 20 chickens along with baking 90 pies and much more for the meals that will be to-go at Manna on Thanksgiving Day between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Last year, they served about 680 meals. This year, they plan on serving around 1,000 meals. The Vineyard Church will be delivering meals for those who cannot make it. For more information go to the Manna soup kitchen website. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Megan Fenerbacher, culinary manager at Mana soup kitchen, and Shawn Haught, kitchen facility manager at Manna, prepare turkey and ham and other traditional Thaksigivng meals for the Thanksgiving Day dinners to be distributed Thursday. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Manna soup kitchen and a number of Durango-area restaurants are opening their doors on Thanksgiving for people who want to avoid their home kitchens but are still looking to have a hearty meal.

Shawn Haught, Manna’s kitchen manager, said Manna is offering free meals from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday and have been working for weeks to prepare turkey and chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, sausage stuffing and garden salad. For sides, Manna will offer pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie and apple and pear pie.

Haught said enough food has been prepared to serve about 1,000 meals. Last year, Manna served about 680 free meals.

The food resource center will also work with the Vineyard Church in Durango to deliver meals to workers on shift and to residents who are unable to leave their homes on Thursday, he said.

“We are hitting gas stations and other businesses to see if people wanted meals, even though they’ll be working. So, we do have a bunch of delivery drivers that will be delivering meals out to residences and businesses,” he said.

Manna executive director Ann Morse said this will be Manna’s third Durango Community Thanksgiving Dinner after it lent a helping hand during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to a group of volunteers, who for decades hosted the holiday dinner at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.

“The board at the Durango Community Thanksgiving Dinner reached out to Manna to help facilitate the dinner due to the additional safety and health protocols. And we accepted. And so we’ve been doing it ever since,” she said.

Manna traditionally hosts Christmas dinners, so Thanksgiving is a recent addition to its wheelhouse.

“Coming from a food security organization, feeding people during the holidays especially is just so important,” she said. “We don’t want anybody to go hungry any day of the year. But especially on these special days, providing people with food is just so important, we feel. Everybody knows how expensive it is to go out and purchase turkeys and fixings. It’s unaffordable for people trying to make ends meet.”

This year, Manna will have a heated outdoor pavilion for people to enjoy their meals and their neighbors’ company.

“In the future, we really would love to see that social connectedness grow and have that special piece that’s lacking of having that great community meal where people can sit down together as well,” she said.

A number of other restaurants in town will also be open for the holiday, Durango Business Improvement District executive director Tim Walsworth said. However, he cautioned that families should call businesses ahead of time to confirm reservations and availability.

Businesses open on Thanksgiving include:

  • The Strater Hotel, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; pricing is $45 for adults and $22 for children under 12. Entrees include slow roasted honey ham, traditional roasted turkey and herb seasoned prime rib. Entrees come with mashed potatoes, sweet potato or baked potato, stuffing, haricot vert, turkey gravy and cranberry. All orders will come with a complimentary bread and butter house salad-fresh mixed green lettuce, cucumber, grape tomatoes, croutons, and options of ranch or raspberry vinaigrette. Dessert is traditional pumpkin or pecan pie.
  • The Animas River Grill at the DoubleTree Hotel, from noon to 8 p.m.; pricing is $52 for adults, $26 for children. There will be a Thanksgiving buffet that includes turkey, sirloin steak and ham.
  • Purgy’s at Purgatory Resort; pricing is $75 for adults, $20 for children ages 4 to 13; children younger than 4 eat for free. Purgy’s will offer a buffet-style experience from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Burger Theory at the Holiday Inn at 21636 U.S. Highway 160 in west Durango will offer Thanksgiving meals.
  • In Ignacio, The Willows at the Sky Ute Casino is offering Thanksgiving brunch buffets to attendees from 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at $31.99 per person.
  • The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4031 in Durango is offering meals to families of veterans between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Guests must enter through the east entrance.

If eating out isn’t one’s style, but holiday shopping still needs to be done, the following grocery stores will be open on Thursday:

  • The north and south City Market will be open until 4 p.m.; meals can be preordered online. Bone-in turkey or ham with two sides of potatoes, sweet potato souffle, gravy, stuffing and green beans is available for $80; boneless turkey or ham is available with the same side options for $65. Prime rib is available for $90.
  • Albertsons will be open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., and uncooked turkey and sides are available for order through the meat department.


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