TVS Thanksgiving 2006
FAQ - General Questions

Q: What are the directions to Cafe Parizäde?

A: Cafe Parizäde is at 2200 W. Main Street in Durham (see a map of the location). Take the Durham Expressway (NC 147) either north from I-40, or south from I-85/15-501, and exit at Swift Avenue. At the end of the exit ramp, turn right if coming from I-40, or left if coming from I-85/15-501. At the light just ahead, turn left onto Main Street. Go through one light at Ninth Street and in 100 yards or so, turn right into the Erwin Square complex.

Picture of people enjoying Thanksgiving 2005. Picture courtesy of Keith Dixon of Picture Perfect Photography and Videography Services, South Carolina, and used with his permission. Q: How should I dress?

A: If the past is any judge, expect to see people dressed neatly. Some will be in suit and tie, many will be in more casual but neat attire.

Q: Is it okay to come alone?

A: Absolutely! As in the past, we'll have folks with TVS making sure you're comfortable and can certainly help to seat you and introduce you to others. We also will have a designated singles table for at least 16 people; just let us know when you make your reservation that you are interested in sitting at that table. We'll also try to email those making single reservations before the event.

Q: I'm coming in a large group. Can I reserve a table for our group?

A: Generally, we have both small group and community seating and, though our event is always crowded, we haven't had a problem seating groups. If you reserve a group of 7 or larger, we will reserve a specific seating for your party.

Q: What can I expect at the event?

A: Besides great food in a superb restaurant, we'll have a raffle, and a table with free information about vegetarianism. The press is often at our Thanksgiving Feast, so don't be surprised to see a TV camera or two, or a newspaper reporter.

Q: When should I arrive?

A: We have traditionally had one seating between 1-4 pm. This year, to help keep the food lines down, we are requiring you to arrive at 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, or 2:30; we are also opening up a 12:30 slot for those who want to eat early. There are limits for each of these times and if we fill up, we will open a 6:00 evening seating (we'll then likely reserve some of the raffle prizes and raffle those off in the evening). In any case, we aim to start the raffle around 3 or 3:30; there will be enough seating for all who have daytime reservations, and you are encouraged to stay through the raffle. Our setup is made much easier if we don't have to host arrivals before 12:30.

Q: What's this about an evening seating? Can I reserve for 6:00 pm?

A: We will see how reservations go and, if we fill up well before Thanksgiving and the rate indicates that we could get a sizable evening seating, we will try to open up such a seating. If we do, and you prefer to switch from daytime to evening seating, we will try to accommodate you. Please keep an eye on the main Thanksgiving page for any news about an evening seating.

Q: I am coming as part of a large group, but now when I am ready to make a reservation, no time slot has enough capacity to seat us all together. What can we do?

A: Sorry that we didn't get your reservation sooner. Please remember that it is one big event, and we are just spacing people's arrival. When you make your reservation, do specify that you are part of a group and let us know the size of that group so that we can reserve a table. Your group would have to arrive at different times, but perhaps the earlier folks can get small starter plates while waiting or simply relax.

Q: Do we have the restaurant to ourselves?

A: Yes, we do! We will have the whole restaurant, including the main dining room, more intimate club room in the back, and additional seating in Verde, the restaurant next door also owned by Giorgios Bakatsias, the owner of Parizade. To maximize space, we are considering putting up a small tent in the courtyard, with heaters, for a 2-line (double-sided) food buffet. If we also have evening seatings, the restaurant will likely close to the general public for the whole day.

Q: The menu sounds great but I'd like to also have wine with my meal. Can I?

A: Sure! We are providing apple cider, herbal tea, and water, but you can certainly also order from the restaurant's bar. Wait staff will help you; you will need to pay when a waiter delivers your drink. (Though the meal price is all-inclusive, you should tip for bar service.)

Q: I would like to bring my own bottle of wine. Can I and, if I can, is there a corking fee?

A: Café Parizäde has a well-stocked bar that you can order from. However, if you have a special wine that you would like to have served, we have made arrangements with the restaurant to allow you to bring it. Please bring the wine to your server and pay him/her directly the $10 corkage fee. Consider supplementing what you bring with fine selections from the restaurant, as well.

Q: I have particular food allergies. Will I be able to find a variety of food I can eat?

A: All of the food will be plant-based. There will be a wide variety of food but if you have a concern, feel free to contact us before the event to see how we can best accommodate you. Please ask us at the event for questions on ingredients of any particular dishes and we'll do our best to help you.

Q: How many people will be at the TVS Thanksgiving?

A: We will update our projection as we get closer to the event, but we project 400-600 people. Last year, we hosted what we believe was the country's most well-attended vegetarian Thanksgiving with 475 guests [a growth of 32% over 2004], including 140 members and their out-of-town guests, 283 nonmember adults, 23 children ages 5- 10, and 29 under age 5.

In 2004, we believe we also had the country's largest vegetarian Thanksgiving with 360 guests [a growth of 28% over 2003].

In 2003, we had 281 guests [a growth of 30%], 214 [29% growth] in 2002, 166 [66% growth] in 2001, and 100 [20% increase] in 2000.

By the way, some people come some distance to attend. Check out our map!

Q: It sounds like a big event! Will the lines be long?

A: We think that last year we solved the problem of ever-growing lines into the restaurant by requiring pre-payment; people came in fairly quickly. But the restaurant couldn't keep up with the quickened pace of entry and we, unfortunately, did have some long lines for getting food. We think that we will have that, too, addressed this year by staggering people's arrival time, opening up an additional 12:30 pm seating, having a two-sided serving line, designing the menu to facilitate easy serving, and capping the number of people in the afternoon seating to 400 (we had 475 in 2005) while opening up a new evening seating as necessary to accommodate additional people. There will no doubt be lines, but we aim to keep them pleasantly moving.

Q: I will be attending with my children. Will there be food that kids will enjoy?

A: We sure hope so. Thanksgiving is a family holiday and we want to make sure that families enjoy our event. We get rave reviews about the food at this event every year, and aim for a wide variety of dishes. Most of the dishes have gourmet sensibilities, but we aim to always have a relatively simple pasta dish, as well as salads, breads, and grains. We hope that the discerning as well as not-so-discerning diner of any age, vegetarian or not, will come away loving the food!

Q: I have special needs that preclude me from standing in the buffet line, as I'm in a wheelchair / have very young kids / other.

A: We are happy to accommodate you! When you are seated, please alert your server about your needs and, as required, the server can put a plate of food together for you and bring it to you.

Q: How does the raffle work?

A: We have many generous donors who have donated gifts to TVS, including cases of food products, books, gift certificates for area businesses, t-shirts, various services, and much more. Many of these donations value $25-50. You can see the donated gifts on our raffle page; please visit the companies' websites. We will sell raffle tickets for $1 apiece and draw for these prizes around 3 or 3:30 pm. In case of an evening seating, we are likely to split the raffle and have some of the prizes raffled in that seating.

Q: Are my chances good to win a prize in the raffle?

A: We are expecting to again have a significant raffle this year (we had over 100 prizes worth more than $3,000 in 2005!). We can't predict sales for this year, but last year we sold all available raffle tickets (1229 tickets) for the 100+ prizes.

In 2004, we had 138 prizes worth more than $3,000 and sold 796 raffle tickets. In 2003, we had 150 prizes worth more than $3,200 and sold 870 raffle tickets for the 150 prizes. In 2002, we had 91 raffle prizes of total worth approximately $2000 and sold 730 raffle tickets. In 2001, we sold 435 tickets and had 71 prizes.; in 2000, there were 368 tickets sold and 86 prizes offered. 1999, our first year at Cafe Parizäde, was the year that our raffle took off; we sold 238 raffle tickets toward 62 prizes. Compare that to 29 raffle prizes in 1998, the year the raffle began.

Q: I can't attend but would like to enter the raffle. Can I?

A: Yes. You can buy tickets by contacting Dilip Barman at barman@jhu.edu anytime before the event and arranging to buy tickets. For each dollar, we'll enter one ticket with your name on the back of the ticket. If you win any prizes, we'll set them aside for you and contact you to make arrangements so you can get them.

Q: I am planning on coming but will also be attending another Thanksgiving event after I eat. What happens if I leave early and miss the raffle drawing after I enter?

A: See the previous question. When you buy tickets, if you think you may not be here for the drawing, please write your name and phone number on the back of each ticket you enter. We'll contact you for any prizes that you may have won. Please note that if we draw a ticket and the winner isn't there and there is no name on the back, we'll simply draw again.

Q: I am attending Thanksgiving at somebody's house this year and can't attend the TVS event this time - but I would just love to bring some food from the TVS Thanksgiving along with me. Can I pay to stop by and "pack and run" with some food?

A: Yes, indeed.  We would love your company but as long as you pay your admission price, just let us know when you make your reservation and then again when you get to the event that you need to pack your meal, and you will be given a takeaway container. Even better, we encourage you to bring your own reusable container to avoid waste.

Q: I have something that I would like to donate to the raffle. Can I?

A: Yes; please contact Dilip Barman at barman@jhu.edu before Thanksgiving.

Q: What does vegan mean?

A: The food at the event will all be vegan, which means that no animal products will have been used. There will be no meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, or honey in any of the dishes, and we also won't have any refined sugar. If you're new to veganism or vegetarianism, you may be surprised at how delicious and diverse our menu is!

Q: Why vegan?

A: This event is hosted by the Triangle Vegetarian Society, and we invite you to browse our links section and other resources for more context. Not only is veganism great for the environment, human health, and the animals, but also we want to ensure that most everybody will be comfortable eating anything at the Feast and to showcase to the public how easy and exciting vegan food is!

Q: What is TVS?

A: The Triangle Vegetarian Society was founded in 1986 to promote the nutritional, ethical, ane environmental aspects of vegetarianism. TVS is an active group with monthly potlucks and restaurant reviews, as well as many special events like our Thanksgiving Feast. We encourage membership not just for vegetarians, but for all who have an interest in any aspect of vegetarianism.

Q: Do I have to be a member of TVS to come?

A: Absolutely not; in 2004, for example, only about 45% of the attendees were members. But if you decide to become a member when you prepay for the event, you can pay the lower member price.

Q: Either my membership is due for renewal, or I have always wanted to join but never got around to it. Can I pay the member's price?

A: Yes you can, if you renew your membership or join when you prepay for the event. You will need to print off and mail the membership form and include payment for your membership. You can include one check to cover membership and the cost of the Thanksgiving event. (See the Payment FAQ for more information.) Annual membership is $15 for individuals and $20 for families; 27-month memberships cost double. Student and low-income membership is $10 per year.

Q: I'm a member. Can my out-of-town family members get in with me at member prices?

A: Yes; we're delighted that your family has come to town and are joining us.

Q: What is the price?

A: We are pleased that for the fifth year in a row, we have not changed the $20.00 price for current members (in 2001 it was $18.50), in spite of increased cost to us from the restaurant. The price is $24.50 for other adults and $9.00 for children aged 5-10; children younger than 5 eat for free. The price is all-inclusive. We want to continue to provide fabulous food at a great price. If you want bar service beyond provided drinks (apple cider, cranberry juice, water, herbal tea, and coffee), wait staff will help you, but you will need to pay your waiter when s/he delivers your drink.

Q: Can I pay by check? Credit card?

A: Yes and yes. You must prepay by either check or credit card.

Q: What is the history of the TVS Thanksgiving?

A: TVS was formed in 1986. In 1986 or 1987, we apparently had turkeys for Thanksgiving - i.e., live turkeys eating alongside us at a potluck dinner, and made it on national TV. We continued to celebrate Thanksgiving as a potluck dinner for several years at a church meeting room near Duke University in Durham. Around 1994, we decided to try a restaurant Thanksgiving, and ate at Govinda's in Carrboro. If memory serves, since Govinda's went out of business, we had our feast at the Regulator Cafe in Hillsborough 1995 and 1996. (Every year from 1996 on, we have made it to the evening news!) Unfortunately, they, too, went out of business, so in 1997 we had our feast at the Irregardless Cafe in Raleigh; we had about 100 guests and were on both channel 5 and FOX TV. We were again on the news, but just for a 20-second spot, in 1998 at Irregardless, and began having a raffle. We made our move to Cafe Parizäde in 1999, had 83 people, sold 238 raffle tickets, and had exceptional media coverage (Channel 17 did a piece a few days before, and Channels 11, the News & Observer, and possibly the Spectator all covered the event). In 2000 at Cafe Parizäde, we had over 100 attendees, sold 368 raffle tickets, had 86 raffle prizes, and were on 3 or maybe 4 of the evening news programs. In 2003, brimming with 281 attendees sharing the restaurant with the general public in the back, we had excellent coverage by both of the major local newspapers (Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News and Observer) and were on at least one evening news program.

2004 was a particularly exciting year as we believe we now had grown to be the country's largest vegetarian Thanksgiving with 360 attendees. We had good local press coverage with a pre-event Nov. 17 article in the Durham Herald-Sun newspaper and Channels 5 and 17 covering us and giving positive coverage in their 5:30p news on Thanksgiving Day (November 25), plus having three large and delicious pictures from our event on the cover of the November 26th food section in the Durham Herald-Sun.  In addition, we attracted national attention with freelance writer and photographer Linda Long flying down from New York to cover the event for California- based VegNews and New Jersey-based American Vegan; we subsequently had cover articles in the summer 2005 issue of American Vegan and Thanksgiving 2005 issue of VegNews. We believe that in 2005 we were again the largest vegetarian Thanksgiving in the country, with 475 attendees; we again enjoyed widespread TV and print coverage.

Q: Is our vegan Thanksgiving unusual?

A: The truly "traditional" Thanksgiving was probably vegan, with the possible inclusion of deer, according to historian Rynn Berry.

The European settlers' first Thanksgiving when they arrived on November 11, 1620, likely consisted of beans and corn that they stole from the Native Americans. In November 1621, the Pilgrims joined the natives in their centuries' old harvest festival. According to Rynn Berry, "The main meal was a sort of corn meal mush along with nuts and fruits ... popcorn and popcorn balls made by the Indians with maple syrup were served as a sweet. There was a variety of breadstuffs ... it is also possible that other native foods such as pumpkin and squash were served." The meal was primarily vegan, with the possibility of some wild game included.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday. The idea of eating turkeys was popularized by an article in Ladies Home Journal in the 1930s.

Below are what a few other groups in the U.S. are doing. All of these meals, like ours, are fully plant-based.

We may have the record for most at a vegetarian Thanksgiving, but the San Francisco Bay Area must have the record for the most events. In addition to Dilip's favorite restaurant, Millenium, offering a $60 meal with seatings 2:30-7:30 pm, the San Francisco Vegetarian Society having a 30-seat meal there earlier that day, and a planned area lesbian vegan potluck dinner, this calendar also lists an East Bay Thanksgiving Day Potluck and a November 20 East Bay Thanksgiving Potluck. SF Living Foods had a raw foods potluck on Wednesday night.

Vegetarian Society of D.C. is having a "Life-Affirming Thanksgiving Celebration" at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda with approx 250 guests. Their guest speaker will be Erik Marcus, activist and author of "Meat Market". The event will feature door prizes, singles/family tables, and non-profit exhibitors. Additional socializing time and background music will fill the afternoon.

Photograph from Thanksgiving 2005 courtesy of Keith Dixon of Picture Perfect Photography and Videography Services from South Carolina, and used with his permission. (More pictures available online.)

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