"We felt we were in a position to do something for the community. And with the economy today, we wanted to help give people who didn't have anywhere to go a place to go," he said of himself and his staff.
Cherry, owner of Time Out Pub & Eatery, 101 E. Milwaukee St., began meal preparations for 150 people Monday when he started cooking 170 pounds of turkey.
Rounding out the traditional menu were 60 pounds of green beans, 15 pounds of mashed potatoes, 15 pounds of dressing, 7 gallons of milk, 5 gallons of gravy and too many desserts to mention.
The 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. inaugural meal was open to people who had no place to go, didn't have family or just wanted some company for Thanksgiving, Cherry said.
There was no cost to attend but attendees could make a donation into a Salvation Army red kettle, he said.
Local businesses donated milk, whipped cream, pies and some of the turkey. A total of 35 people volunteered their time to serve food and beverages.
Among them were Steve and Kimberly Glissendorf of Janesville and their sons—Chase, 13; Seth, 12; and Parker, 10.
"We impress on our kids every day, you get more out of life by giving than getting," Steve said. "This was a great opportunity just to give back."
George Abraham, 76, of Janesville was walking by Time Out when he saw a sign on the front door about the free meal and couldn't pass it up.
"It was an excellent meal, especially when I don't cook," he said.
With no family around, Abraham also said he enjoyed watching the football game with others.
Nearby, longtime friends and widows Charline Oas and Susan Peters sat visiting at a table after getting their fill of the traditional holiday meal.
"It was delicious," Oas said.
Peters agreed: "It was really good. I just regret not having any leftovers at home."
Both Janesville women were thankful to be out and among people.
Cherry said others were, too.
"The people here have been extremely grateful and personally thanked me and my staff," Cherry said.
"This is what Thanksgiving should be," he said. "This is a great way to start the holiday."
Elsewhere, the Salvation Army and 29 South Café also served free meals.
About 200 people attended the noon feast at the church and social service agency. Another 75 people enjoyed a hot holiday meal at the 29 S. Main St. café, where manager Angela Collas prepared food served by 15 volunteers.