Owners Of Lisa's Mediterranean In New Jersey, Ali Baba's Turkish Cuisine In NYC Prepare Turkeys For Homeless Individuals

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — This Thanksgiving, there will be an empty seat at so many tables for loved ones who died from COVID.

Two North Jersey siblings and restaurant owners who lost their mother to the virus are using that pain to spread even more love this holiday.

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Lisa Mayisoglu is preparing 20 turkeys for Thanksgiving from the kitchen of her restaurant, Lisa’s Mediterranean in Ridgewood, along with 60 pounds of rice, broccoli and fresh cranberries.

Across the river, her brother Ali Dogan, of Ali Baba’s Turkish Cuisine in Midtown East, is prepping 10 turkeys and more to feed homeless individuals.

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Kiymet Dogan (right) died in May from COVID-19 at the age of 75. (Photo provided by family)

The siblings are two of five kids born to Kiymet Dogan, and they’re giving back with heavy hearts this holiday.

Their mother died in May from COVID-19 at the age of 75. She battled the virus for almost two months.

“It’s going to be so hard… because every year, she cook for us,” Ali Dogan told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.

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“She was looking forward to every holiday and we were looking forward to every holiday because of my mom,” Mayisoglu said. “She took such a great pride in her Thanksgiving holiday and especially making turkey.”

Mayisoglu delivers each of the 20 turkeys herself, with some help from others, to Eva’s Kitchen in Paterson. Around 200 people in need will benefit.

Ali Dogan, of Ali Baba’s Turkish Cuisine in Midtown East, is prepping 10 turkeys and more to feed homeless individuals. (Credit: CBS2)

“You don’t see your parents, please call them, see them,” Dogan said.

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Dogan, who has a sign in the winter welcoming homeless individuals to sleep in his makeshift foyer, is also handing out free masks to those in need. He says his compassion comes from his mom, who immigrated with the family from Turkey in 1985 to Paramus. She took dozens of neighborhood kids under her wing even back then.

This Thanksgiving, the siblings honor her spirit with strangers through her favorite tradition.

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