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Everyone welcome at the Village Gardens' free Thanksgiving dinner

By Gina Mace correspondent

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The Village Gardens are offering a free Thanksgiving dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to anyone who walks in the door. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

CUYAHOGA FALLS:  When Tom Metlovski and his wife, Vicky, opened the Village Gardens restaurant 25 years ago, she was a good cook, but he couldn't boil water.

Neither had experience in the restaurant business.

"We kind of threw ourselves into the deep end," Metlovski said.  "The will, determination, the following of our clientele on a regular basis made us what we are today."

"We've been very fortunate," he said.

For the fifth year, the Metlovskis will spend Thursday giving back to the Cuyahoga Falls community that embraced their little restaurant.

They are offering Thanksgiving dinner, from turkey to pumpkin pie, to anyone who walks in the door.

Dinner will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the restaurant on 2437 State Road.  The dinner is free.  Diners are welcome to add to a donation jar, with money going to the American Cancer Society, but it's not required.

"It's not just people who don't have money," Metlovski said.  "We invite anyone and everyone.   We have good customers who do not have families, or families are so far away, they come here to be with our families. We welcome them with open arms and make sure they enjoy their Thanksgiving Day."

He doesn't ask his staff to serve, although some do.  Serving families alongside the professionals are customers who have become friends, including on occasion Mayor Don Robart and his wife, Cecilia.

Last year, 137 people enjoyed Thanksgiving with the Metlovskis.

"It's not about Village Gardens," Metlovski said.  "It's about giving back."