Dallas cafe continues free Thanksgiving meal tradition

A tradition of caring for the community

DALLAS — For 27 years, Norma's Cafe in Oak Cliff has opened it's doors to the community for a free meal on Thanksgiving Day. 

The only catch, according to restaurant owner Ed Murph, is the long line. 


"Other than that, it's free... it's on the house... gratis," he said. 

Murph grew up in this neighborhood, and for the last 27 years he's handed out meals to anyone who needs one. To say the event has  grown over the years in an understatement.

His first free Thanksgiving was in 1988, and on that day they served about 150 people.

This year, he anticipates serving around 6,500 meals. 

The plates are being loaded up all day long. Norma's Cafe can't seat everyone, so thousands of meals are prepared for takeout. Every meal has all the trimmings, and every diner has a story. 

"We're blessed. God is keeping him alive, and we're going to get the transplant, I think," said a guest who goes by "Shari." She spends her days caring for her sick husband. Money is tight and their stress level is high, but this meal is a break from all that.

"A lot of people need help nowadays, and there are wonderful people in the world that are willing to give it to you," Shari said. 

There are thousands of stories like hers that will walk through the doors at Norma's Cafe on Thanksgiving Day.

"It's an amazing thing to see these people, and know that in some way you are giving them some help and some hope," Murph said. "Hope is the best commodity there is."


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