Richard Genest moved from one end of the counter to the other.
He was trying to talk to a reporter about the inaugural run of what he expects to be an annual community Thanksgiving dinner in the Stockade, but food had to be served.
“Let me get this man some gravy,” Genest said at one point.
Then, for someone further along in their meal, came the dessert options: four kinds of pies.
Genest recommended the pear pie.
Much of the food he was helping to serve at his Moon and River Cafe on South Ferry Street was brought in by neighbors — a potluck Thanksgiving.
“It’s just beautiful,” Genest said of the turnout. “It’s our first annual; I think we’ve had about 50 people.”
Those 50 people stopped by the Stockade cafe to have their Thanksgiving turkey and fixings and also to have a conversation with their neighbors.
Some whole families came, along with some individuals. They sat together at tables with old friends and new ones.
“The dinner was lovely; everybody contributed,” Stockade resident Kay Pasternak said. “It’s been very, very nice seeing everybody. It’s like a community effort.”
She contributed brownies to the meal.
In Pasternak’s group was her son, recent Stockade resident Peter Pasternak.
He said the gathering at the Moon and River showed the part of the Stockade that few neighborhoods have.
“That’s the difference in this neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a sense of community you don’t really get in a lot of neighborhoods.
“The Stockade is special,” he added, “real special.”
Genest said he saw the dinner as a way for people to get together with others on the holiday when maybe they wouldn’t normally have been able to.
It’s something he hopes becomes an annual event in the neighborhood.
“A lot of people who live alone don’t have a place to go on Thanksgiving,” Genest said. “So we’re providing that.”
Elsewhere in the small cafe, a half-dozen people sat around a table having a conversation and finishing their meals. Among them was Stockade resident Mike McIntyre.
“We’re lucky to have the ability to walk to a place like this, where everybody makes one thing that they’re good at and they all come together and share good food,” he said.
Another person at the table, Donald Hyman, came to the dinner from Albany. Those at the table were people he had just met, and they were all having dinner and talking to one another.
Hyman called the experience “like hitting the lottery, in a spiritual way.
“I’m here with people that I didn’t know before,” he said, “but spiritually, I feel that we’ve connected.”
He added: “I would much prefer this type of Thanksgiving to the traditional Thanksgiving.”