Restaurant serves holiday meals to military families

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From the Grove Grinder on Thanksgiving Day, the aroma of a turkey dinner replete with pumpkin pie will fill the air. For the 8th year in a row, the Lemon Grove sandwich shop will offer a free Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings to some very special people. Active-duty service members unable to be home for the holiday and local on-duty first responders will get a sense of family they’ll need on that day.

“People who need a place for Thanksgiving can come in here, sit down and eat and talk with others, and even watch football,” said owner Sharon Jones.

From the Grove Grinder on Thanksgiving Day, the aroma of a turkey dinner replete with pumpkin pie will fill the air. For the 8th year in a row, the Lemon Grove sandwich shop will offer a free Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings to some very special people. Active-duty service members unable to be home for the holiday and local on-duty first responders will get a sense of family they’ll need on that day.

“People who need a place for Thanksgiving can come in here, sit down and eat and talk with others, and even watch football,” said owner Sharon Jones.

It’s always a family affair at Grove Grinder. Jones’ son Skeeter will be preparing a lot of the side dishes through the next week for Thanksgiving dinner. Her granddaughter Kiki Jones will be helping her boyfriend Keith Swift with baking of the pies, from cherry to pumpkin to mincemeat.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it,” said Skeeter, who has worked at the Grinder since his parents purchased the shop 10 years ago from the previous owners.
“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Sharon Jones.

Inside the sandwich shop, the place looks and feels just like a family dining room, with festive tablecloths, a china buffet, and collections of plates, odds-and-ends and Campbell’s mugs decorating the shelves and walls. The TV sits in a corner of the dining area, just like at home.
It has been a family tradition for the Jones to share their holidays with those in the military. Jones’ late husband, Chief Petty Officer Robert Jones, devoted his career to the Navy.

When her husband, who had been in the Navy for 25 years, died in March of 2005, her son suggested that they move Thanksgiving from their house to the sandwich shop.

“My parents had always invited a group of military guys to our house on Thanksgiving,” Skeeter said. “So we all thought it best to do Thanksgiving right here at Grove Grinder.”

Grove Grinder, which has been a Lemon Grove establishment since 1972, had always been a part in the Jones’ family tradition, with Sharon and Robert having eaten there for years. One day in 2000, they saw a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window. Almost on a whim, they decided to purchase the eatery—on April the 1st.
Something that the sandwich shop has on hand that no home does is 68 kinds of root beer.
That’s right,” Jones said. “We have root beers from all over the nation, including the Pop Shoppe. On Thanksgiving Day, we’ll be completely stocked.”

As many as 100 people could well stop by on Thanksgiving Day, but the Jones’ will be ready. They’ll work together side by side as policemen, firefighters and enlisted service workers arrive for dinner after their work shifts.

Thanksgiving isn’t the only time the Jones family uses the restaurant to aid the community. The restaurant also participates in Lemon Grove’s annual Western Round-Up and Chili Cook-Off. The event is a fundraiser for food, clothes and toys that will go to needy Lemon Grove families, especially during the Christmas season.

“We won first place this year at the Chili Cook-Off,” Jones said.

The Grove Grinder is located at 3345 Olive St. Doors open at 11 a.m. Thanksgiving Day and close between 7 and 8 p.m.

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