North Bay restaurant serves pre-Thanksgiving feast to 1,200 people

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- They spent Wednesday morning folding napkins in San Rafael's Lotus Cuisine of India -- enough of this repetitious task to make a person numb.

"How many are you doing?" we asked Navoit Sroa, who works the business with his father, Surinder.

"Eight hundred and fifty," he replied, without missing a move.

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They will need more, because every year, on this night, a line forms around the block as this restaurant will serve a pre-Thanksgiving feast to some 1,200 people -- not only here in San Rafael, but also in Fairfax and Novato.

If diners want to make a donation, the restaurant donates to charities in India and matches the amount.

"As soon as we open the door at 5, by 5:10 the restaurant is full," said Alisha Sroa.

The man responsible came to this country from Northern India with nothing and never forgot how that feels.

"If you don't give, you don't receive," said Surinder Sroa. Before the 1,200 meals tonight, he gave away 50 more to a local senior living facility. It happens every Wednesday.

"I think he is the best. He has been blessed with deep pockets for charity so he shares this blessing with others," said senior Eve Green.

Surinder's generosity is not even close to an open secret in Marin County.

"He is out in the community and wants to share with everyone," said Damian Peo, while eating the restaurant's famous lunchtime buffet.

It's been decades of sharing now. Surinder remains very low-key about it. It's the stuff of a pretty good immigrant story about a man who came from a country with no formal Thanksgiving. Or so they say.

"Every day is Thanksgiving," said Surinder. "If you believe in karma, then every day is Thanksgiving."

See more stories and videos about Thanksgiving here.
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