O'FALLON, Mo. — Scott Ellinger knows a thing about serving up a successful Thanksgiving meal. He’s a chef who does it every year at his restaurant in O’Fallon. The Brass Rail Steakhouse does Thanksgiving big—and all for those in need.

“The first year we did about 100 people, and it was such a tremendous experience that we decided to keep going,” Ellinger said.

That was in 2013. Since then, the Thanksgiving tradition has grown from 100 people to 1,000… to 3,000… to 7,000 and finally to 10,000 people.

“We’ll do 10,000 again this year,” he told Abby Llorico during an interview for the Abby Eats St. Louis podcast.

That’s 10,000 people fed within about six hours on Thanksgiving. For free. No questions asked.

“We’ll go 60 miles in any direction. So, we are in O’Fallon, Missouri, but we’ve got orders going to O’Fallon, Illinois. We’ve got Washington, Missouri. We’re meeting someone halfway from Carbondale. So yeah, it’s pretty crazy what’s happened,” he said.

LISTEN: Subscribe to the Abby Eats St. Louis podcast

The Brass Rail doesn’t do traditional marketing or advertising. Instead, Ellinger uses that money to make Thanksgiving happen for thousands of people every year. Next year, he’s hoping to get other restaurants on board with spreading the giving spirit of the holiday season.

“Even if it’s each 10 new places adopted 10 families and did it in the next year, there’s another 100 families that we might not reach this year,” Ellinger explained. “It’d be amazing to have other restaurant owners step in and get a chance to experience the feeling of doing this.”

That feeling of what it’s like to see his restaurant stuffed with turkey, all the trimmings and hundreds of volunteers is tough for Ellinger to put into words.

“It’s really hard to describe except for on that day, but it is like just total joy,” he said. “The people that we’re feeding are happy. The people that are helping I think are even happier. Everyone’s just here for the same reason and it’s to help people that need it. It’s a really cool feeling of community.”

10,000 meals.

10,000 pounds of turkey.

Thousands of sides cooked from scratch.

1,000 volunteer prep cooks from ages 4 to 84.

700 delivery drivers.

Thousands of grateful families with full stomachs.

And one chef with a full heart.

“I’m doing my little part this day to make the greater St. Louis area better, even if it’s only for one hour that day.”

The Brass Rail has filled up all of its delivery and volunteer slots for 2019. If you would like to help this year, the restaurant is asking for new warm clothing donations, like hats, gloves and scarves. Those items can be dropped off at the restaurant. The donations will be going out with delivery drivers on Thanksgiving to all the families who are receiving meals this year.

The Brass Rail is located at 4601 State Highway K in O’Fallon, Missouri.

Hear more from Scott Ellinger about how he makes Thanksgiving magic at his restaurant in the full episode of Abby Eats St. Louis. Listen for free wherever you get your podcasts. The episode is called, 'Count blessings, not calories.'

More from Abby Eats St. Louis

About Abby Eats St. Louis

Abby Llorico tells the story of St. Louis based on what’s on the table. From the hunger for local ingredients, to the booming brunch scene and the craving for creative cocktails, Abby dives into the nitty-gritty of how St. Louis grew to become the foodie town that it is.

Abby Eats St. Louis is available for free on all podcast apps. Take a listen to our latest episodes in the audio player toward the top of this story. We’ve also included links to some of the most popular podcast platforms below.

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn Castbox

Make sure to subscribe to get the latest episode as soon as it drops.

Take a listen and let us know what you think! Have a topic idea or just want to send us your thoughts or comments? Email us at podcasts@ksdk.com.

And make sure to follow the Abby Eats St. Louis podcast on Instagram for more photos, videos and food inspiration.