Nick & Jimmy's serving free holiday meals to veterans

Posted at: 11/27/2013 6:43 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

One of Albuquerque’s most popular restaurants opened its doors Wednesday to military veterans and their families for a Thanksgiving dinner – on the house.

It’s a Thanksgiving tradition that goes back decades, even though Nick and Jimmy’s is a relatively new restaurant. That’s because the legendary Nick Kapnison has been doing this for years in the restaurants his family has owned and operated. Nick himself is a Korean War veteran – U.S. Army – and he has never forgotten his fellow veterans and their families. Thanksgiving really does mean “thank you” for Nick.

“It’s a joy to see all these veterans and a joy to see them smiling and it’s really a joy to visit with them,” Kapnison said during a brief break from manning the busy window of Nick and Jimmy’s kitchen. “There’s so many of them that we’ve known over the years. It makes it real comfortable.”

Well, okay, it’s not comfortable for the cooks and waiters and waitresses at the iconic roadhouse on north I-25. They worked in a nonstop frenzy from 11 a.m. on into the evening to keep the turkey and trimmings coming by the plateful. They’ll get to rest on Thanksgiving Day when the restaurant will be closed.

“All veterans want is to be appreciated,” said Vietnam veteran Pete J. Montoya, who served two tours with the Marines. “They don’t want sympathy, they don’t want anybody to give them stuff. They just want to be appreciated. That’s it. Real simple.”

Co-owner Jimmy Daskalos wanted to thank Walmart and Sam’s Club for donating all the turkeys.

“Oh, it’s wonderful,” said Goldie Buckner, whose late husband was a survivor of the Bataan death March in World War Two. “It’s really nice of them to pay tribute to the veterans and their families. It’s very unusual. Not everybody does that – to be served by Nick himself!”

Maybe not so unusual, Goldie – it does run in the family!

Last year Nick and jimmy’s served 800 veterans and family members. This year the goal was 1,200, and early indications were that they would exceed that.