Big-hearted bartender Jill Schombs is once again cooking and hosting Thanksgiving dinner at the Penny Pub in downtown Bay Shore.
For the second consecutive year, Schombs will be opening the bar and restaurant for her regulars who don’t have family around for the holidays.
She’ll be cooking all Thursday morning in preparation for the 3 to 7 p.m. feast. After that she’ll head to Commack to catch dessert with her own family members.
Her day at the Penny Pub comes as a volunteer.
This year she’s getting help from other volunteers, who learned about her efforts last November. The event caught media attention from across the ti-state area after greaterbayshore.com first broke the story.
“I had people in April asking if they could volunteer or donate money,” Schombs said. “This one woman who was here last year already told me she can’t wait for Thanksgiving again. And that’s the whole point.”
As previously reported, Schombs said she couldn’t bear the thought of any of her beloved regulars spending Thanksgiving alone. Last year in particular, one regular had Stage 3 cancer and had no one to spend Thanksgiving with.
“And I just couldn’t bring myself to picture him alone,” she had told us.
Between 30 and 40 people showed up for the free meal.
“They were here before I was ready to get going, they were showing up,” she said Wednesday.
The menu consists of all the Thanksgiving staples, and many of the regular who showed last year came with special dishes of their own to contribute to what turned into a pot-luck.
“Again this year a lot of people are donating dishes,” she said, noting the dinner guests aren’t homeless people, just those “who don’t have a place to go, whether their family moved out of state or whatever. And it feels good, seeing how much this means to them.”
Schombs also realizes she’ll have to keep cooking for her regulars every Thanksgiving moving forward.
“Yup,” she laughed. “I don’t mind it. I love it. It’s nice. It makes me feel good to see everyone smiling and happy.