Next week, much of America will head home for the Thanksgiving Holiday.
Recently, the Kingsport-based regional fast food chain “Pal’s Sudden Service” launched a contest to help their many fans do just that.
“Come Home to Pal’s” offered paid transportation for one winner from their current home back to their family in the Tri-Cities. The Kingsport Convention and Visitor’s Bureau loved the idea so much it offered to pay for transportation for a second winner.
Restaurant icon Pal Barger said it was a way to re-connect people with their families and the food they love.
“When you’re growing up and you eat Sauce Burgers and Frenchie Fries, that’s something you don’t forget for the rest of your life,” said Barger.
According to Pal’s Sudden Service, almost 2,400 people entered from all 50 states.
Thursday night, Pal Barger himself called the two selected winners.
One person he called was Natasha Almeida, a Marine reservist in Oceanside, California. Nominated by her friend Liz Malone, the Piney Flats native spent four years in the Marines and has not been home for Christmas since boot camp.
“She gave up the comforts of her own home,” Malone said. “She slept in the desert. She slept where she wasn’t always safe. And I think that speaks volumes about the person that she is.”
The second winner called by Barger Thursday night was Tara Abbitt of Ankeny, Iowa. The last time “Aunt Tara” visited family in Kingsport was two years ago, and during they visit Abbitt ate at Pal’s every day. Abbitt is such a fan, she even mentions Pal’s Sudden Service when she posts on social media. “Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, everything from Aunt Tara is ‘I Love Pal’s,’ said Mary Jane Allen who nominated Abbitt for the contest.
Barger said he’s always amazed by the loyalty of his restaurant’s fans. “We get email all the time about how much people miss the food,” he said. “And their parents will say, ‘my kids come in and they come to Pal’s before they come home.”
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