The VineRipe Grill, a seasonal restaurant and caterer located on the Robert T. Lynch Municipal Golf Course in Brookline, opened its doors this Thanksgiving to serve more than 60 people who otherwise wouldn’t have had a place to celebrate the holiday.

“It was a good, community-spirited event,” said Lisa Wisel, proprietor of the restaurant and 30-year Brookline resident. “It was just very heart-warming to see everybody come together.”

Originally, the evening was to include two seatings of 40 people, according to Wisel, but a scarcity of signups nearly led to a cancellation of plans. Casey Hatchett of the Brookline Police Department’s community service division, who had been spearheading the effort to find families, put out a last-minute notice on social media, and the RSVPs started coming in.

“This is the first time I’ve been involved in this, so I reached out to people a few months ago,” Hatchett said. “Most of our families were from North and South Brookline.”

Hatchett said she reached out to many of the town’s service providers, including the Brookline Teen Center, Brookline Food Pantry, and the Brookline Senior Center and Housing Authority, to both pull volunteers and to locate the needy and the hungry. Of the 65 attendees, Wisel said there were “15 or so families,” some students from Brookline High School, seniors, and other individuals.

“We had a wide range of people,” said Wisel. “There was definitely a lot of camaraderie.”

The restaurant was set up with two long dining tables capable of seating upwards of 40 people each. The day before Thanksgiving, the Coldwell Banker’s Pie in the Sky program delivered 14 pies. Hatchett coordinated with the Police Department to help shuttle families and individuals to the golf course, which is part of Brookline’s Emerald Necklace, and dinner commenced at roughly 12:30 pm after appetizers and cider.

Starting out as a hot dog stand, the VineRipe Grill offers year-round catering and hosts numerous holiday and birthday parties. Wisel co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Danny Wisel, who is the executive chef.

“It’s been our favorite Thanksgiving without a doubt,” said Wisel. “Next year I think it will be bigger.”

Hatchett thought the event was a success.

“What I like about the work we do in this town is that there is such a genuine heart by the volunteers,” she said. “This was especially nice because it wasn’t just that we were meeting people’s core needs, but it was was also an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate the occasion.”

by Tanner Stening