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Liberty restaurant invites ‘dine-and-dashers’ back for free meal

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LIBERTY, Mo. -- A holiday meal in Clay County came with a serving of forgiveness.

A popular local restaurant on Old State Route 210 cooked up a free meal for the public Thursday, in hopes one notable family would show up.

It turned out to be the Thanksgiving feast Darla Staton had promised to the people of Liberty. She's a co-owner of a local restaurant called The Fish Market, which offered a complimentary Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. Staton and an army of volunteers spent months planning the spread .

Staton says everyone was welcome, including the family who apparently ate at her seafood restaurant on October 19th, and took off without paying. The restaurant's hidden cameras show them dining-and-dashing.

“If they were in a situation where they needed a meal free of charge, then today would be the perfect time to easily have that,” Staton said.

Staton proved to be true to her word. She didn't call the police. She called out to that family via social media, inviting them to this turkey day dinner.

“Lots of people are going through hard times. We've had people here today who have been struggling. We've had the opportunity to sit down and talk with them and make their day a bit brighter,” Staton said.

The reaction from folks around Liberty? They're not surprised at all.

Jan Hahn volunteered to serve these meals, and says Staton and her business partners are known for turning the other cheek.

“They're just the kind of people who wouldn't call the cops. Right away, in their hearts, they knew there was a reason this was a dine-and-dash,” Hahn said on Thursday.

Staton says it's unlikely her staff would recognize the now-famous 'dine-and-dash' crowd. So, it's possible they came, had thanksgiving dinner and left, and that's perfectly fine with her.

Most of the items served in that meal were donated by various food-based companies from around the metro.