Starting Tuesday night, the cooks at the Carson Nugget Casino will begin preparing the annual Thanksgiving dinner offered free for needy families.
They'll cook 3,800 pounds of turkey, 150 gallons of giblet gravy and 500 pounds of yams to make about 1,900 free meals.
"We'll have 20 cooks, 12 dishwashers, four prep cooks and the buffet ladies," said Executive Sous Chef Sal Bracamontes in the Nugget kitchen. Nearby, a cook in a white hat trimmed huge cuts of meat on a stainless- steel counter. Upstairs in the fragrant bakery, handmade pies were going in the oven.
"Of course, the buffet ladies focus on the buffet. We have it open at the same time as the free dinner so we get bombed from two sides back here."
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year at the Nugget Coffee shop, which is open all day, every day.
"That and Christmas Day because we offer a free meal on Christmas Day too," said restaurant manager James Chavez.
Neither Chavez nor Bracamontes could say exactly how long the free meals have been offered, but it's been a while.
"The previous chef had been here for 18 years, and he said the dinners had been going on for as long as he can remember," said Bracamontes, who started washing dishes at the Nugget when he was 15 and is now the youngest sous chef.
"This is for people who really can't put a meal together," said Chavez. "And the beauty of it is, they get first-class service just like paying customers."
He said he takes large family groups from the long line, puts their names on a lis,t and allows them to wait in the streak house, where soda, coffee and cookies are served.
"Not too many restaurants will do something like this," Chavez added.
The Carson Nugget is run by Alan Adams and his son Brad.
The Adams family treats their employees as well as they do Carson City's needy, Chavez said. "They treat all the employees just like family."
"They even remember our birthdays. They'll come up and say, 'Happy Birthday, Sal.' That doesn't mean too much to a man, but to a woman it's like, 'Wow.'"
The free Thanksgiving dinner is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday.
Anyone who shows up will be served ham or turkey, salad, stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, a drink and choice of pie.
A full staff will work at the coffee shop - 12 servers, five buspeople, four hostesses, two floor stockers and two cashiers.