Restaurant gives meals with thanks North Laurel owner renews tradition

Faye Furr carried on her parents' tradition yesterday by giving away roast turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and pies to anyone who entered her North Laurel restaurant.

Ms. Furr, the owner of Sam's Restaurant and Pub, began serving dozens of meals as patrons trickled in around early noon.


With the help of several volunteers, Ms. Furr ladled out gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, dressing, sweet potatoes, string beans and other foods.

Ms. Furr, 58, said Thanksgiving is her most gratifying day of the year.


"So many people are out of work, it just upsets me terrible," said Ms. Furr. "When it touches you, you know you need to do something."

Rockville resident Jin Song had a job but was surprised by Ms. Furr's generosity.

"It's all free?" he asked incredulously as a volunteer handed him a carton of four dinners and several slices of white bread.

Mr. Song planned to take the food to three co-workers who were laboring at a nearby construction site.

Marian Buck-Lew and her mother, Rose, chose to dine out to take advantage of the traditional, but hassle-free, Thanksgiving dinner.

"This time, we let the experts cook the turkey," said Marian

Buck-Lew of Elkridge, who usually cooks roast chicken for the holiday.

Volunteers said they would continue serving meals until no one remained.


"We just keep serving until we run out of people or food -- whichever comes first," said Ms. Furr's son, Tommy, of Savage.

Alison Pervis of Laurel said she decided to volunteer to keep loneliness at bay.

"I didn't want to stay home alone," said Ms. Pervis, whose husband had to work at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade.

Volunteers offered free rides to patrons and delivered meals to those who could not come to the restaurant.

Companies and individuals donated an assortment of goodies, including $125, turkeys, potatoes, paper plates and flatware. With the money, Ms. Furr bought six turkeys, a crate of oranges and yams, and baked about 60 pies, including mincemeat, cherry, apple, and pumpkin.

The tradition of a free Thanksgiving dinner began in 1955 when Ms. Furr's parents, Sam and Elsie Watts, bought the restaurant at 9994 Washington Blvd.


"My mom and dad gave it away for years," said Ms. Furr, who recalls her father giving away money and meals to passing strangers.

Ms. Furr renewed the tradition last year when she re-bought the restaurant; she had sold it in 1987. Companies donated turkeys, canned string beans, juice, and whipped cream.

She served about 75 people and donated leftovers to a Washington, D.C., shelter.

HTC This year she will give away extra food to local halfway houses and shelters.

Ms. Furr said she will continue to serve free Thanksgiving dinners even if she does not receive donated items.

"It just makes you feel good," Ms. Furr said. "As long as I'm here, I'll give away food. If I can't, I'll help someone else."