El Sombrero offers 28th annual free Thanksgiving Dinner

TROY — El Sombrero will continue a local Thanksgiving tradition again this year, hosting their 28th annual free Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 24.

“I just want to thank everyone for being behind us for all these years,” El Sombrero owner Ruben Pelayo said. “Without them we would not be here.”

Free Thanksgiving dinners will be served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at El Sombrero, located at 1700 N. County Road 25A. The meals will be a full traditional Thanksgiving dinner, complete with dessert.

“It’s everything,” Pelayo said. “Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans and pie.”

“I always order a lot of food, because whatever leftovers we have we give to the soup kitchen,” he said. “I know this year I ordered about 110 turkeys.”

Dinners will be served through the drive-through only.

“Everything is drive-through only,” Pelayo said. “Since the pandemic started over the last couple years, that’s how we’ve been doing it.”

“I think we’re going to continue doing it like this,” he said. “We serve more people this way than the other way.”

El Sombrero has been hosting the free Thanksgiving dinner every year for the last 28 years.

“It’s not just El Sombrero,” Pelayo said. “It’s all of Troy; some people they give $5 here or $20 there for the cause.”

“It’s not just me,” he said. “It’s a lot of people who donate money.”

The Thanksgiving dinner is also staffed by volunteers.

“Without them, we would be nothing,” Pelayo said. “They are the ones who help us do everything.”

Pelayo first opened El Sombrero a little over 28 years ago, after moving to Troy from the Cleveland area.

“One of my friends and I had a restaurant in Cleveland,” he said. “He asked me if I wanted to come and open another restaurant.”

“I came to look at the restaurant, and I saw that Troy was a nice beautiful area,” he said. “So I sold my part and I came this way. That’s how I came to Troy.”

The idea to start the free Thanksgiving dinner originally came from Pelayo’s mother.

“My mom used to do things for the poor people down in Mexico,” Pelayo said. “Since she was doing that, she asked me whenever I could be able to do something like that for our neighbors. That’s how it started.”