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Nana's Southern Kitchen to serve free Christmas meals in south King County

caption: Willie, Kyan, Mercedes and Todd Minor of Nana's Southern Kitchen will give out 1200 free meals in South King County this Christmas
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Willie, Kyan, Mercedes and Todd Minor of Nana's Southern Kitchen will give out 1200 free meals in South King County this Christmas
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The list of places offering holiday meals is short this year. In South King County, one restaurant hopes to help fill the gap.

The City of Seattle maintains an extensive list of places offering free meals.

But when Emily Penna, who works for the Meals Partnership Coalition, sent out a survey asking places to confirm if they're providing meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, she received only a handful of responses.

For Christmas Day, it's down to Saint James Cathedral (from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and Teen Feed from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a couple more places offering sack lunches.

South King County is another place where the need outstrips the demand.

One restaurant there is hoping to fill in the gap: Nana's Southern Kitchen. It plans to distribute 1,200 meals on Christmas Day, 600 at each of its locations in Kent and Covington.

It will be a drive-through service. Volunteers from around the community will take orders, and run back and forth between the restaurant and cars.

Nana's is run by the Minor family. It's named after their great grandma, 'Nana' Myrtle.

"She used her food to bring people together — we learned a lot from her in the kitchen,” explained Todd Minor.

"The way to a man's heart is through his belly, that's always what she taught us," said Kyan Minor, Todd's sister. "We're blessed to be able to continue it."

Todd Minor has a day job working at Microsoft. He started Nana's in Kent in 2019, as a way to draw his family closer to him. Then, the pandemic hit. Luckily, the restaurant was geared for takeout, so the business thrived.

Mercedes Minor, 17, said the Christmas meal project has grown as the business has grown (it recently opened a location in Covington).

“Obviously with Covid, so many people’s holidays have been ruined. So it’s nice to be able to just give some smiles back to the people,” Mercedes said.

Under the leadership of head chef Willie Minor, the restaurant will cook 3,000 shrimp, 1,200 chicken wings, 600 pork chops, and 300 half-pound catfish on Christmas, and side dishes like collard greens, candied yams, mac and cheese and potato salad.

“When you think about logistics...this takes a lot of preparation,” said Todd Minor.

Working for two companies might seem stressful, but it also has its advantages. In Todd Minor's case, his Microsoft connections helped him drum up donations to support the Christmas meal program.

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