Preparing Your Restaurant for Thanksgiving Dinner

For many, Thanksgiving is a holiday synonymous with day-long feasts, food comas and plenty of football. When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, restaurants are playing a bigger role in keeping diners sane and satiated throughout the busy holiday season.

A 2014 poll by NPR found that 55 percent of consumers find cooking for the holidays to be equal parts fun and stressful. Some Thanksgiving hosts looking to take the stress out of cooking turn to local restaurants to supply part or all of the meal.

If you plan to offer delivery or takeout on Thanksgiving, now’s the time to start preparing. Here are a few things to consider as you gear up for holiday orders:

Adjusted service hours

Just because Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday doesn’t mean your restaurant has to keep its typical weekday hours. Online food orders will taper off once diners have had their turkey fix, so closing early – and let employees get home to their own Thanksgiving festivities – is a smart option. If your restaurant usually reserves takeout and delivery for lunch and dinner periods, consider offering those services earlier to accommodate diners before they sit down to watch parades and football games. Also make sure to have enough staff on hand for a midday surge in delivery and takeout orders – including cooks and delivery drivers.

Specialty menu items

While some restaurants open on Thanksgiving may offer a full-course menu with turkey and all the fixings, there are easier ways to incorporate a Thanksgiving theme into your menu. Think of ways to put a seasonal spin on some of your menu staples, such as offering pumpkin ravioli, squash as a pizza topping, or cranberry sauce and gravy as sandwich condiments. Nail down these items sooner rather than later so your kitchen has enough time to stock up on ingredients it doesn’t regularly order.

Targeting the home cook crowd

Another way to attract more online food orders, even on a holiday, is to position your restaurant as a helping hand for busy diners cooking their Thanksgiving meals at home. Promote specific dishes that can be served as appetizers or sides – one less thing the at-home cook needs to worry about when they’re already juggling multiple recipes. If you open early enough, advertise breakfast menu deals to attract hungry home cooks (and provide necessary sustenance) before they begin their marathon dinner prep.

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