San Rafael Indian restaurant serves free meal to hundreds

Wayne Freedman Image
ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Thursday, November 27, 2014
San Rafael Indian restaurant gives free meal to hundreds
The owner of Lotus Cuisine of India in San Rafael feels so thankful and fortunate for his life, he doesn't mind serving hundreds of people for free.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- Wednesday was a special day for a Marin restaurant owner and his staff who served a Thanksgiving feast to hundreds for free.

There's no turkey, but there's Indian food. The line of people waiting in line for it stretches around the block and this has become a Marin County tradition for 10 years. We can thank one man who is extremely thankful himself.

ABC7 News followed the man into the kitchen who was about to serve more than 1,000 people Wednesday night, out of two restaurants and all for free. At Lotus Cuisine of India in San Rafael, Paul Sroa and his staff have turned it into a habit and self-imposed privilege for a decade.

"It is not a lot of work. It is a lot of feeling good because you are giving back," Sroa said.

"Oh we are happy. We're proud. We want to do it," chef Avatar said.

Sroa came to the United States in 1984. Back then, he was little more that kid from North India with a big dream and a stronger will.

"I came here with nothing, yes. Now, we have three restaurants and we are very fortunate to be in Marin and we're very fortunate that the community is part of us, and we're a part of the community," Sroa said.

It's been a success built on a reputation. Sroa's all-you-can-eat lunch buffets are inexpensive and legendary in these parts. Wednesday night's buffet was expected to be even larger, and cuts no corners. Not in San Rafael, nor at his restaurant in Fairfax, either.

"Actually, when I overheard it, I almost started to cry because I thought how beautiful to serve so many people," San Anselmo resident Melinda Martin.

Officially, there's no such holiday as Thanksgiving in India. Sroa learned about that after moving to the states. There's no turkey served, just Indian food, lots of it.

"They will all call each other on the cellphone and say, 'just get over here,'" Sroa said.

We asked him if he was doing the dishes and he smiled and said, "Oh no, I have a dishwasher doing the dishes."

Well, he has to draw the line somewhere.