One hundred turkeys. That's how many will be eaten at on Thanksgiving Day.
The popular Mountain View restaurant will host the 15th annual Thanksgiving dinner at its downtown location on Thursday and feed nearly 1,500 people between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Owner John Akkaya began this tradition 22 years ago at his other restaurant Figaro in Burlingame as a way to give back to the communities he works in and everyone's welcomed he says.
"God bless America," said Akkaya, an immigrant from Turkey. "This country gave me two daughters and a great job. I'm very fortunate that I can do this."
For the traditional sit-down Thanksgiving meal of stuffing, yams, sweet potatoes, mash potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and bread, in addition to the 100, 20-22 pound turkeys, Akkaya's ordered 67 cases of potatoes and 40 cases of an assortment of fruits. In 2010, they ran out of food ten minutes before they closed.
Akkaya thinks the event "gets better and better" each year.
For several years now, seniors have also made serving the Thanksgiving meal a tradition, according to Mike Speckman, who coordinates this effort and also works as SFHS' director of admissions.
About 30 students and faculty members volunteer each year setting up tables, bringing the meals out and clearing up.
"Our students look forward to volunteering here," said Speckman, who also enjoys exchanging stories with Akkaya about his family and where SFHS students have gone after high school.
Customer and friend Brian Clarke has attended every Thanksgiving meal at Don Giovanni's. He now volunteers as the official photographer and snaps pictures of how the line winds around the corner of Castro and Villa Streets.
"This was one of my first Thanksgivings in America," said Clarke, a British immigrant who had no family when he first moved to the area for work. "I think it's a great thing that they do this with the local school. It's a great atmosphere and it's a really good dinner."
To Akkaya, it doesn't matter if you are homeless or rich—anyone can stop in and eat on Thanksgiving.
He remembers that as a child in Turkey his father would always feed strangers and when Akkaya asked why, his father said because if you have you should share.
"We human beings should learn to share what we have," Akkaya said, "and the things we don't have we should work for it."