Free Thanksgiving dinner for veterans at South St. eatery
This Thanksgiving, the Primo Hoagie shop at 326 South St. won’t sell sandwiches.
Instead, owners Ted Cox and Nick Constantino are closing for the day to serve free turkey dinners to veterans. All area veterans and their families are welcome to stop by between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to enjoy platters of of sliced turkey, gravy, stuffing and all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings.
Cox and Constantino opened their hoagie shop in May, so this is the first year they’re doing the giveaway, but the partners have spent the last four Thanksgivings helping at the Philadelphia Veterans Comfort House, which also offers free meals on the holiday.
"Thanksgiving at the Comfort House was always kind of cramped. You’d have several vets waiting outside while others eat on couches," Cox explains. "With a whole restaurant at our disposal, we can serve a lot more people. Plus it will be much more comfortable - we’ve got real chairs and tables."
Spreading the word is one of Cox’s worries. "We’ve got enough food lined up to feed at least 100 people, but I don’t know if we’ll get that many. Even if vets do hear about the event, sometimes they’re hesitant to take help. We’re not asking anything in return - just come and get a hot meal." First District Councilman Mark Squilla’s office is helping get the news out, and the councilman himself will be joining the Primo Hoagies crew at the shop on Thanksgiving.
Cox’s brother is a veteran, but he gives Constantino credit for getting him involved in the cause. For the last five years, the two have run the Walk for the Wounded in Media, which raises nearly $150,000 for veterans benefits annually. "It’s horrible, how vets are treated when they return home," Cox says. "These men and women deserve more."
Primo Hoagies is also taking nonperishable food donations.
Cox will prepare his mother’s stuffing recipe (he grew up in Port Richmond, so expect a classic Philly rendition). No alcohol will be served, but food and soda will flow freely throughout the day. If you know someone who might want to take advantage, make sure he or she knows to head to South Street on Nov. 28.