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Popeyes to provide holiday dinner to homeless

Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits will be one of the few businesses in Suffolk with their doors open Thanksgiving Day, but selling chicken and making money will be the last things about which employees will worry.

The restaurant, located at 901 North Main Street, will be open from noon to 3 p.m. serving full Thanksgiving dinners to homeless men, women and children.

The Thanksgiving spread includes Popeyes’ famous fried chicken and Cajun turkey, as well as traditional side dishes, some more New Orleans-flavored side dishes, desserts and beverages.

“We just want to show the community why we really want to be here; it’s not just about the bottom line,” said Hung Ngo, senior vice-president of Operations and Franchise Development for Saratoga Food Group, which owns the Popeyes chain.

Suffolk’s Popeyes isn’t the only franchise that will open that day. The one on St. Paul’s Boulevard in Norfolk will provide a similar service to the community.

Between both locations, Popeyes expects to serve approximately 3,700 people from local shelters.

“This is the whole point of a restaurant, or a business, or a college, or anything that’s a part of a community; it is to help people.”

Ngo said.

Ngo said the restaurant’s employees will be volunteering their time to come in on Thanksgiving.

Local churches and pastors will be there too, helping serve food and bringing donated clothing.

“It’s the spirit of what is right, as a part of a community and as a Christian,” Ngo said.

According to Ngo, a large percentage of Popeyes employees are Christians.

“We’re by no means ashamed to have a prayer to start a meeting. If someone (an employee) doesn’t believe, that’s OK; if they hang around with us, some of it will rub off.”

Joseph and Ann Simone are owners of Popeyes and founders of The Spirit of Life Foundation.

While the Thanksgiving Day dinners don’t have direct ties with that organization, which creates awareness in the battle against cancer, The Spirit of Life gives, “a lot of spirit to each of our restaurants,” said Ngo.