CRYSTAL LAKE – A lot of restaurants won’t be open for Christmas.
But given that their family has moved south, the owners of Pablo’s Mexican Restaurant have decided to open for a couple of hours on Christmas Day and serve a free meal to the less fortunate.
Owner Jennifer Falbo said she and husband, Fred Falbo, were trying to figure out what to do for Christmas.
“I don’t know, I’m kind of bummed,” Jennifer Falbo recalled Fred saying.
“I said, ‘How about we cook and have less fortunate people come in for a Christmas meal?’ ” she said. “He started crying – my manly man husband.”
After they took a minute to collect themselves, they put the plan in action.
Pablo’s will be open from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 25 to serve homeless veterans, single parents and families who don’t have the means to provide a meal. The restaurant, at 230 W. Virginia St. in the Country Corners Shopping Center, could stay open past 4 p.m. depending on how much food the Falbos have left to cook.
“We’re not going to turn anyone away,” Jennifer Falbo said.
They will cook a traditional Christmas meal with ham, turkey and perhaps another meat, along with mashed potatoes, corn, green bean casserole and more. There will be treats such as candy canes, too.
Several local businesses have chipped in.
Pablo’s is asking for donations of socks, gloves, hats and toys to give an added gift to those who stop in for the meal. The gifts can be wrapped by the Pablo’s team.
The owners announced the event Tuesday morning on the restaurant’s Facebook page. By Wednesday afternoon, the post had been shared 330-plus times.
“We just want to feed people, give back and make people happy,” Jennifer Falbo said. “No judgments – we just wanted to give people time to enjoy Christmas dinner.”
Fred Falbo – who in addition to being part-owner and serving as a bartender and fixer-upper of the building when things break – has carried much of the load in preparation for Christmas dinner, Jennifer Falbo said.
Pablo’s has been in business in Crystal Lake for 31 years. The Falbos bought it from former owner Paul Morin almost four years ago.