Troller gets into spirit of Thanksgiving

The Troller Bar and Grill is hosting a free dinner next week and chef Jason Hill, left, and owner Rohn Rutledge are planning the traditional menu. - Brad Camp/Staff photo
The Troller Bar and Grill is hosting a free dinner next week and chef Jason Hill, left, and owner Rohn Rutledge are planning the traditional menu.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff photo

t Bar and grill offers to feed the community for Thanksgiving.

SUQUAMISH — This Thanksgiving, local bartenders Jason Hill, Jenn Helgeson and Nalon Griffin are serving up the family turkey and trimmings at the Suquamish Troller Bar and Grill. In the spirit of the holiday, the hot-plated dinner is the restaurant owners’ gift to the community. Although donations are accepted, they aren’t expected.

The three bartenders volunteered to come in on their day off to serve a free Thanksgiving meal to community members, even though it means spending time away from their own families.

Jason Hill, who works as a bartender and chef, is a single father of three kids. The idea meant so much to him that he’s celebrating the holiday with his family the day before so he can serve those who wouldn’t otherwise have a Thanksgiving.

“It’s a part of what Thanksgiving means, to help others and be with family,” Hill said. “We’re all basically extended family.”

For the last seven years, owners Rohn and Carin Rutledge — who also own Kingston’s Main Street Alehouse, Poulsbo’s Magnolia Cafe and the Olympic Timberhouse in Quilcene — cooked Thanksgiving meals for two needing families in the North End. This is the first year Troller Bar and Grill hosts a full family feast with the ability to feed more than 200 people, in addition to continuing their tradition of delivering two families’ Thanksgiving dinners.

Last week the three employees approached Rohn with the idea.

“I wasn’t going to stand in their way,” he said. “All I had to do was write the check and buy the food. They are the ones putting this on.”

Because the restaurant is a bar establishment with a 21 and older license, only those who are of age are able to dine in; however, family meal plates are available to take home to youngsters, Rohn said.

“I know how hard it is in the restaurant industry right now and the Suquamish area has a lot of valued guests who still want to come in but aren’t able to,” Rohn said, alluding to the economic downturn. “I think people, when faced with a less expendable income, prepare more meals at home. ... A lot of people don’t have a big family or the ability to put on a big family dinner. We want to do this for the locals who wouldn’t otherwise enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.”

The dinner consists of roast turkey breast, honey glazed ham, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce and dinner rolls. There will be plenty of gravy to go around. Like many family’s traditional Thanksgivings, football games will take over the TV sets.

“But the meal is on us, from the business to the community,” Rohn said. “This is the one day where we can help, thanks to our staff volunteering to help that day.”

The restaurant is open from noon to 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day with a 67-person seating capacity at one time. Reservations are appreciated, said Rohn, so employees know how many people to prepare for.

“If we need to prepare for 350 or more, we will,” he said.

To make a reservation to dine in or take home Thanksgiving dinner plates, call (360) 779-1222 or (360) 621-3721. Be prepared to give a reservation name, phone number, how many people will be dining in and the hour the party will arrive. The Troller Bar and Grill is located at 7234 NE Park Way St. in downtown Suquamish.

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