Restaurants Strut Their Stuffing for Thanksgiving Diners

 Thanksgiving Diners

Nov. 22, 2017 | 4

Thanksgiving is a huge holiday for many Americans. Schools and business are closed and it’s one of the busiest weeks for travel all year. People gear up to visit family, spend hours in the kitchen, and then doze in a tryptophan-induced coma on the couch in front of a football game. Thanksgiving is also a huge revenue generator in America, just look at these Turkey Day statistics from Statistic Brain:

  • 51,650,00 – the number of turkeys consumed on Thanksgiving Day alone
  • 39,000,000 – the number of families that will travel for Thanksgiving
  • 7,600,000 – the number of barrels of cranberries produced annually
  • $2,983,000,000 – the total amount spent on Thanksgiving dinner food

Most of us know the traditional Thanksgiving at home drill: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, family, football, and way too many leftovers. For many Americans, having Thanksgiving dinner at home is non-negotiable, but more and more people are moving away from the tradition of staying home, giving restaurants an opportunity to cater to those looking to avoid the stress of prepping a feast.

The National Restaurant Association reports that close to ten percent of adults plan to dine out for Thanksgiving. Additionally, of those planning to eat at home, almost ten percent will supplement some part of the meal with food picked up from a restaurant. These stats show an opportunity to serve in-house diners the day of or, if uninclined to open for the holiday, to pre-sell sides and desserts. Thanksgiving can be a profitable and fun time of year for restaurants who choose to participate.

At Estevan Restaurante in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Executive Chef Estevan Garcia and Head Chef Jonathan Paczolt are currently busy sourcing local food and putting final tweaks on recipes for Thanksgiving Day. The quiet, intimate, and beautiful restaurant is just steps away from the historic Santa Fe Plaza and both tourists and locals make up the Thanksgiving crowd, many being repeat customers who enjoyed the menu last year.

Chef Estevan still has a passion for food after forty years in the industry and loves sharing the holiday celebration with diners. Not only does he enjoy being open on the holiday, it also affords him a chance to show off the uniqueness of the restaurant while others keep their doors closed. Head Chef Paczolt will serve up traditional offerings, such as free-range organic turkey sourced from the local co-op, and, as is the custom year-round, fresh vegetables from the local farmers market. Chef Estevan will be whipping up a New Mexican take on traditional stuffing with his home-made, gluten-free cornbread version. The restaurant is open 12:00 - 7:00 p.m. and while reservations are strongly recommended, Estevan always tries to welcome walk-ins when possible. Each year the crowd grows and more than 100 are expected this year.

If you’re worried about asking staff to work on Thanksgiving, don’t be. Chef Estevan says there is never a lack of staff happy to work while others choose to spend the day with family and friends. The atmosphere is fun, diners are relaxed, holiday tips flow along with chef recommended wine pairings, and quite simply, not everyone wants to be at home. If your restaurant POS has scheduling capabilities, allowing staff to request and swap shifts is a breeze.    

Meanwhile, at Apple Mountain in the heart of the Great Lakes Bay Region in Freeland, Michigan, things are moving fast as preparations continue for the annual Thanksgiving buffet which serves over 800 guests. The Thanksgiving buffet has become so popular that it is now housed in the 12,000-square foot conference center. According to Ben Schippers, marketing manager for Apple Mountain, “these events are a tradition for us and have become a tradition for many families in our community.” Apple Mountain offers sittings at 12:00 and 3:00 p.m., giving guests plenty of time to enjoy an array of over 30 items, including a chocolate fountain.

Opening on the Thanksgiving holiday is not for everyone, but if you’ve ever thought about it, Chef Estevan would tell you it can be very rewarding. For those of you not opening your doors on Thanksgiving Day, be sure not to forget about Black Friday diners the day after. Of the 43% of adults saying they plan to shop on Black Friday, 72% of them say they will eat out while shopping. Particularly if you’re close to a shopping hub, make sure to open your doors and welcome those hungry shoppers.

And no matter what days you choose to open between now and the end of the holiday season, make sure you have gift cards on hand to sell. Encourage your servers and bartenders to push gift cards to last minute, and just plain lazy, shoppers!

 

Nov. 22, 2017 | BY hilary.wainwright

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