It wasn’t so much turkey and ham as spaghetti and steaks, but the volunteers from Cork Penny Dinners enjoyed their belated Christmas dinner in Il Padrino all the more for it.
The staff of the Cook St Italian restaurant treated 41 of the best people in Cork to a little bit of hospitality for themselves, serving them three courses each, entirely on the house.
Peyman Nasser, proprietor of Il Padrino, told The Echo he felt it was the least that volunteers from Cork’s oldest charity deserved after a busy Christmas in which they served over 1,000 meals during most days.
“Penny Dinners is one of the kindest, most necessary and hardest-working establishments in Cork, and if we did not have it, then we would have a huge crisis in our city.
“We just wanted to do something small to let the people in Penny Dinners know that we really appreciate all they do to help people who are struggling, and to show that people in Cork see what they do and we are grateful.”
Mr Nasser, a Tehran native who moved to Cork in the mid-1990s, said he hoped everyone who had an opportunity to thank the volunteers would do so in any way they could.
“With Penny Dinners, it is not only what they do themselves, but also what they encourage other people to do by their example, they spread kindness in our city, and that is a very good thing,” he said.
Penny Dinners co-ordinator Caitríona Twomey said that the volunteers had a fantastic time, and the staff at Il Padrino “waited on us hand and foot”.
She said the evening ended with a surprise birthday cake for the charity’s head chef, Phillipe Chabalier.
“It was such a special night for us, and it was so nice for everyone to be able to just relax and have a fuss made of them,” she said.
“Without the aprons and the masks, a few of us didn’t recognise each other!”
Ms Twomey said Mr Nasser has been a supporter of Penny Dinners for a long time, and she said he and his staff had done a lot to help people in Cork, without ever looking for credit or thanks.
“They’re good people, good friends, and we’re very, very grateful to them,” said Ms Twomey.