W.Va. eatery will serve holiday meal to give thanks

December 03, 1996


Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Two downtown Martinsburg business partners, saying they want to repay the community for its support during the year, say they will open Buster's, their restaurant at 300 N. Queen St. on Christmas Day and give anyone who walks through the door a free holiday dinner.

Turkey and all the trimmings will be on the menu.

Blaine Smiley, 58, and Wayne Wolfensberger, 45, opened Buster's in February. "Business has not been good and it's not bad," Smiley said. "We're holding our own." "It's time for us to give back to this community," Wolfensberger said. He said he plans to serve 250 to 300 free dinners on Christmas.

"It's hard to figure, but that's what we came up with based on what the (Martinsburg Union Rescue) Mission serves," Smiley said.


Employees at the restaurant volunteered to work on Christmas to serve the meals, Wolfensberger said.

He said his mother, Doris Wolfensberger, volunteered to make 24 apple and pumpkin pies for dessert and also will work in the restaurant on Christmas Day. "Even my 92-year-old grandmother, Mildred Shirley, wants to come in to help," he said.

Many of the Christmas diners are expected to be single people or those without families or places to celebrate the holiday, the partners said. Many will be regular customers of their other businesses - Pepper's News Stand at 246 N. Queen St., and Variety Books and Video at 255 N. Queen St.

"We've been spreading the word among our customers to come for Christmas," Wolfensberger said.

Smiley said he expects people who have to work on the holiday, including police officers and firefighters, will stop in for a quick Christmas dinner. Even some of the community's more destitute individuals, those who don't go for the rescue mission's Christmas dinners, will be welcome at Buster's, he said.

"We'll be happy to serve anyone who comes in," Wolfensberger said.

"I'll never forget a Christmas when I was single and living in California. I had nobody to talk to and no place to go," Smiley said. "Do you know how many people there are out there like that?"

The Rev. William Crowe, director of the rescue mission at 602 W. King St., said the mission served 165 free meals on Thanksgiving. He said he expects to serve at least 150 at Christmas. "We know we'll always have that many. That's the way it's been for the last 36 years," Crowe said.

He said he didn't think the free dinners at Buster's will affect the mission's program.

"If it's available, people will come. Some of them will make the rounds. They'll eat early at one place then go to the other for a second dinner," he said.

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