Many hands make light work at Nugget’s Thanksgiving feast |

Many hands make light work at Nugget’s Thanksgiving feast

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Charlie Evans Jr. peers through smoked turkeys in the kitchen at the Carson Nugget on Tuesday. Evans, the banquet sous chef, said the kitchen staff is about 65 percent finished with preparations for Thursday's free Thanksgiving dinner, preparations for which, he said, are ahead of schedule compared to last year.

The Nugget chefs and kitchen workers won’t be getting Thanksgiving off this year – they’ll be serving up more than 1,300 traditional holiday dinners to Carson City’s neediest residents.

“It takes a bunch of us to put this together,” said Chef Mario Santos.

Twelve cooks in all, he said, including two dinner cooks and five prep cooks, 13 servers, five busers, seven dishwashers, seven hostesses, two people manning the sweet shop, a stocker and a silver gofer.

Despite the amount of work, Santos, who has been serving this dinner for 13 years, said he enjoys the work and talking to the people he is helping.

“Especially the needy people,” he said. “They really do appreciate what we do and how much work we do.”

Some come because they have little funds, others because they have no family, but Kelly Brant, director of marketing for the Carson Nugget, says the casino is happy to offer all the free meal.

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“We’re just happy to be giving back to the community that has given so much to us,” he said.

On the menu will be traditional roast turkey with sage stuffing, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes and vegetables or ham with candied yams, fruit sauce and vegetables, Brant said. Dessert will be apple or pumpkin pie.

The Nugget expects to serve at least 1,300 and possibly 1,900 Thanksgiving dinners in the coffee shop, and Brant said diners will not have to stand in buffet lines.

“They’ll get to sit down and be waited on,” he said. “No one will have to stand in a line.”

The Nugget has been offering free Thanksgiving dinners since the Adams family purchased the place in 1957, Brant said.

Though cynics might say it brings people into the casino, Brant said most of those enjoying the free meal don’t spend money.

“Thanksgiving is usually a busy day, but the people who come in for the free dinner are the less fortunate and don’t gamble,” he said.

The free dinner will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday in the casino’s coffee shop.

Traditional Thanksgiving meals will also be sold in the buffet for $8.50 until 8 p.m. and in the coffee shop for $7.50 until 9 p.m. for those who aren’t needy, but still don’t want to do the cooking, Brant said.

“It’s great; my parents come down for it,” he said.

For the workers, it will be a long time and a lot of effort before they can spend some holiday time with their own families.

“As soon as I’m done here I go and gather with the family and have a little peace,” Santos said.

n Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111, ext. 351.

Thanksgiving Dinners

Carson City

WHAT: Free Thanksgiving meal

WHEN: 1 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Stewart Community Baptist Church, 5340 Snyder Ave.

CALL: 721-5126

WHERE: Carson Nugget, 507 N. Carson St.

WHEN: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday

WHAT: Hand the check to the cashier and say, “I’m a guest of the Nugget today.”

WHERE: Bully’s Sports Bar and Grill, 3530 N. Carson St.

WHEN: noon-5 p.m. Thursday

CALL: 825-4333

Virginia City

WHERE: Storey County Senior Center, corner of E and Mill streets

WHEN: 2 p.m. Thursday

CALL: 847-0957

WHERE: Mark Twain Saloon/Casino, 62 South C St.

WHEN: 2-6 p.m. Thursday

CALL: 847-0599, preregistration requested

WHERE: Millionaires Club of the Washoe, 121 South C St.

WHEN: 3 p.m.

CALL: 847-7210

WHERE: Union Brewery, 63 North C St.

WHEN: 1 p.m. Thursday

CALL: 847-9016