For Amanda Ngo, the owner of Duc Loi supermarket, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year.
She stocks groceries, manages dozens of employees, and on top of that cooks a dinner for more than 450 people in need. The mustard greens and apple pie she cooks were served outside her store on Thanksgiving Day.
This is the third time that Duc Loi, which has been in the Mission since 1996, has hosted the feast. It was a record year because of word of mouth and the fact that more people are in need, Ngo said.
Anthony Myint of Mission Chinese Food cooked the 25 turkeys. Ngo has known Myint from the time he had a small corner in the store dedicated to the now-defunct Mission Burger.
Myint, who was hosting a private lunch for “luxury” customers on Wednesday afternoon, said he was happy to give back to a community that might not be able to afford to eat at Mission Chinese Food.
Ngo gets emotional when customers, many of whom she has known for years, ask why she does it.
“This is my family,” she said, beginning to cry. “This is my home.”
Her family, including her sister, sister-in-law and husband, were there to celebrate with her and help with the feast. People snaked around the block on 18th Street during the day.
All the food and silverware, and even decorations for the feast, come from her store.
Ngo was proud to pay for the event out of her own pocket even though she fed 150 more people than she did in 2009.
“It’s more than just about money,” she said.
The crowd they serve is diverse, as Ngo advertises the event in Chinese, Spanish and English. Many are customers; others live nearby in single-room-occupancy hotels.
And they appreciate it.
“This is food sent by god,” said Roberto Quezada, who has been to all three years of the Duc Loi Thanksgiving feast. “If there is someone who says it’s not good [food], they don’t know what they are talking about.”
Ngo said she will continue the tradition for as long as she can, because, she said, “You can never do enough.”