Five Crowns managers recently cooked and served staff a holiday lunch as part of an annual Thanksgiving tradition that this year featured essays read by Corona del Mar schoolchildren.

"It's just a nice way to say thank you to everyone," said Steve Kim, general manager of the restaurant at 3801 E. Coast Hwy. "The managers serve, and the president and CEO is back there cooking."

About 70 staff members enjoyed roasted suckling pig, apple and celery root gratin, Cinderella pumpkin puree and spaetzle with butternut squash, along with beer and wine and pumpkin pie for dessert.

"It's the holiday kick-off," said Patrick Covert, a server at the restaurant. "Once we do this, we know the holidays have begun."

Richard R. Frank, Lawry's president and chief executive, said the staff party was a tradition that dated back decades.

"We've always done it," he said. "As far back as I can remember."

Emma Jo Edwards, who has been a Five Crowns server for 41 years, said the parties were going on when she started.

"We look forward to it every year," she said. "I love it. It's just a lot of fun."

The theme for this year's party was the simplicity of giving thanks, Kim said.

"We as adults complicate things," he said. "Children are innocent; they know how to say thank you. So I called the school so the students could show how simple it is."

The students shared Thanksgiving artwork from their first-grade reading buddies.

"I give thanks for my family because they love me and they pay for my sports, my field trips and insurance," read Zane Weaver.

Other students said they were thankful for their families, their teachers, cupcakes, soccer and their country.

The Five Crowns staff gave the students a standing ovation. The students then were served ice cream, pie and fruit crumble.

"I'm very proud of them," said Principal Charlene Metoyer. "They did a wonderful job."

*Left-turn signals to be installed at Marguerite, Coast Highway

Drivers turning from Marguerite Avenue onto East Coast Highway soon will have a dedicated green arrow signal, the president of the Corona del Mar Residents Assn. said at the group's November board meeting.

Currently, there are left-turn signals for motorists on East Coast Highway turning onto Marguerite Avenue, but not for motorists on Marguerite, who must yield to Coast Highway traffic.

Newport Beach traffic engineers also plan to add a countdown to the pedestrian signal, said CdMRA President Karen Tringali.

Newport Beach Traffic Engineer Tony Brine said the project will be put out for bids in the spring.