From the time Detroit teenager Craig Wright lost his mother in 2001, life was not easy. Connecticut relatives brought him to Vernon, but eventually he faced homelessness and trouble with the law. “I was a real knucklehead, in and out of prison for years,” said Craig, now 33. After a few “slaps on the wrist” he received a lengthy sentence.
Craig’s “knuckleheadedness” disappeared when, out of prison, he decided to channel that once-misdirected energy of his into Craig’s Kitchen, a soul food restaurant at 13 West Main St in Vernon. “I wanted to make my mother proud,” said Craig. And it’s a sure thing any mom would be proud of the accolades the southern fare he’s cooked up there has received. But the pride goes far beyond the menu.
For the third year now, Craig’s Kitchen invited everyone to a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. Due to COVID-19, this year the meal was take-out and delivered. And even with a pandemic to contend with, Craig doubled his takers from 200 meals in the past to over 400 this year.
This year, Craig got a lot of attention from local news spots to an inquiry from the producers of the Kelly Clarkson Show. He credits his volunteers for helping to make the annual event a success – especially with the many deliveries made this year. Guy Douglas, a customer from Manchester, even set up a GoFundMe account on behalf of the cause. Guy stated that Craig’s Kitchen is a “staple of the kind of energy” that gives back to the community – especially in these complicated times. The “Giving Thanks to Craig’s Kitchen” account achieved its goal of $2500 in a matter of days.
Craig has often said he holds the annual dinner simply to give back because “my community has given me so much. I plan to do this every year.”
For three years Craig Wright has served the Rockville/Vernon community a Thanksgiving meal. This year the meals were “take-out.” Photo by Laura B Hayden
By Laura B. Hayden