Shannon Garrett and Shayla Ruland are the co-owners of the Last Stop Sports Bar on Malletts Bay Avenue in Winooski. They’ve wanted to help give the Onion City several things on Thanksgiving — food, friends and football.
“Shannon and Shayla came in; a few years ago, they bought this place,” bartender Colin McIntosh said. “They’ve been putting their heart and soul into it, renovating it not just physically, but making this a place that stands for this community.”
Last year, they learned that no one in Winooski was offering a free dinner on Thanksgiving that was open to all. They decided to fill the void by offering one of their own, along with a community clothing drive.
“And it was such a huge success,” bartender Kaitlyn Ruland said. “You know, this bar is more than just a bar. It’s a community with close friends, and we wanted to give back to the community and have a place where we’d want to go on Thanksgiving.”
The Last Stop wanted to fight loneliness on Turkey Day by opening its doors at noon, which is four hours earlier than usual for the establishment on a Thursday. Its goal was to welcome anyone in the Onion City who might find themselves in need of a warm meal, a friend, warm clothes or simply a warm place to gather.
“We’ve had great support from everybody, and really, this is what Thanksgiving and the holiday is all about,” Kaitlyn Ruland said. “Seeing everyone here, being so humble and so grateful and going through the clothes and having a meal — this is truly what Thanksgiving’s about.”
Local business and individual people contributed enough clothing to fill the room where the pool and foosball tables would be, and they also donated enough food to fill much of the barroom.
“I wanted to be involved more in the community, and this is just an easy way to do it,” McIntosh said. “Bring people in here, donate whatever you can, help out however you can, and a lot of people have turned out and given everything they’ve had for this.”