Sharkey’s Serbian Christmas enjoyed by many
GARDNERVILLE – The line was long, but the food was worth the wait.
That seemed to be the consensus among diners at the 29th annual Serbian Christmas at Sharkey’s Nugget Friday night.
Many people were there for more than the food, though.
“A few years back, I heard about it and my grandmother, who came from Ukraine, celebrated Christmas on that date (Jan. 7),” said Dolly McBroom, of Reno, who wore a shirt from the Ukraine to the event.
Vic Podsadlik of Carson City said he and his wife Mary have been coming for three years.
“When I was growing up, we were friends with people who were Russian and celebrated Christmas on this date. It was nice to have Russian Christmas again,” Vic said.
Many of the community people who volunteer as food servers say they come because of Sharkey.
Pam Walter is an employee of Sharkey’s, but she stayed to donate her time for the dinner.
“I worked this morning and just I stayed. Sharkey’s got such a big heart, how could you not help him?” Walter said.
Beside her, John Burruel said he has been in the serving line for five years.
“It’s just nice for Sharkey to do this for the community. You don’t find things like this too often,” he said.
State Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen, R-Minden, has been serving pears since the very beginning.
“I look forward to it every year. Sharkey is one of my special friends. I think the crowd appreciates it, too; all you have to do is look at the attendance,” Jacobsen said.
Greg Davies and Bennie DiSalvo have worked in the kitchen for the past five years, preparing meat for dinner.
“Sharkey’s always good to all the people and always doing things for other people. We want to just help him out so he can mix with his friends and celebrate Christmas the way he likes to,” Davies said.
Many newcomers said it was their first year at the dinner, but they had heard much about it.
Jim and Kathy Yarnella of Minden said it was their first year coming to Serbian Christmas, but they are familiar with the restaurant from years back.
“We heard on an Los Angeles radio station a restaurant critic that people call into and a gentleman called and said he couldn’t remember exactly where it was or what it was called, but they had the biggest and best prime rib he’d ever had,” Kathy said.
She said when they visited Gardnerville, they just had to mention that short review and they were pointed in the direction of Sharkey’s.
“That was in 1989 and then we decided to move here, so we come here all the time. Sharkey is probably why we moved here,” Jim said.
“The food, the atmosphere, the friendly people – it’s all wonderful – it’s a big party,” said Brett Parker, who was there with his wife Susan for the third year. “You’d be surprised who you run into here. I met a guy I lived 1/2 a block from in Southern California and we never met until here. It’s a hoot.”
Last year, about 4,500 people attended the event and dinned on goat, pig, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs and apple strudel.
Wiebke Riley of Carson City came for the food.
“I wanted to try goat,” she said. “It’s not bad.”
Many people raved about the food.
“It’s great, even on a diet, it’s good,” said Barbara Prunier of Minden, who came for the first time with her husband Norm.
“We did it last year,” said Jim Fernandez, who came with his wife Kathy. “It’s such a good gesture on his behalf. Everything is great all the way through. The food is excellent.”
Sharkey said it’s the community people who come to his establishment throughout the year who make the Christmas dinner possible.
“They’re the ones that make it possible. Without them it wouldn’t happen, period. It doesn’t take much to figure that out,” he said. Sharkey said he doesn’t even have to lift a finger anymore because of the volunteers.
“They have been doing it so long, I don’t even have to tell them anything,” he said.