Two weeks after celebrating the second anniversary of her restaurant, Comal 864, owner and chef Dayna Lee-Márquez is prepping turkeys and gathering hygiene products and winter clothing.
She is preparing to host a Thanksgiving Day Community Meal. The event will kick off at noon and continue through 5 p.m. on Nov. 23 at 1112 Woodside Ave.
The event will aim to give back to the community, which has helped Lee-Márquez’s rise in the restaurant business.
Earlier this year, Lee-Márquez was nominated for a James Beard Award as Best Chef: Southeast. The nomination was mainly due to her culinary contributions to the food scene in West Greenville and throughout the Upstate.
“I’ve always seen the need that this specific community has and felt a sense of responsibility. Of course, I’m trying to make a (dollar), but I saw the need to help people,” she said.
How it started vs. how it’s going for the Thanksgiving giveback
In 2021, Lee-Márquez and staff spent months cleaning and preparing to open the doors to Comal 864. Yet even in the beginning, they prioritized their first Thanksgiving Day Community Meal only a week after opening.
In that first year, nearly 100 people showed up for the Thanksgiving Day community event, and last year, almost 150 people attended, which called for 15 roasted turkeys.
This year, Lee-Márquez expects around 200-to-300 people or more as the word has continually spread about how the Greenville restaurant has chosen to give back.
“If you don’t feel good, feel lonely, need a jacket or a home-cooked meal, come on out and try to do a bunch of good things and pack it into one day,” said Lee-Márquez.
Although South Texas is her home, she said she has chosen this holiday to build on her new family here in Greenville. She even plans to cook a cow’s head for the staff who assist with the event.
“We plan to get a buffet line going, and everyone gets a to-go plate,” she said. “We will put the tables outside with donations for people to pick up and go or stay as long as you’d like.”
How you can help with the Thanksgiving Day Community Meal
Individuals who wish to contribute with hygiene products or clothing can bring jackets, coats, blankets, socks, gloves and unworn undergarments.
Lee-Márquez is encouraging those interested in helping to donate raw turkeys to bring them to Comal 864 at 1112 Woodside Ave. during the operating hours, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, or 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday.
All are welcome to assist with the community give back.
– A.J. Jackson covers the food & dining scene, along with arts, entertainment and more for The Greenville News. Contact him by email at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter @ajhappened.