Local restaurants looking to fill the void with Thanksgiving meals

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 3:01 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Families are scrambling to make last-minute changes to their Thanksgiving Day plans after the CDC released recommendations to avoid travel and large gatherings over the holiday.

Smaller gatherings at home equate to big business for local small business owners.

It’s a tradition that I make the green bean casserole in my family, but I will not be joining my very large family this Thanksgiving. According to a recent survey, the average Thanksgiving gathering this year will only be about five people -- down from an average of eight. All the more reason many of us are choosing to hang up our aprons at least this year.

The kitchen at Frog and the Hen is unusually busy for a Tuesday morning, but this isn’t a usual Tuesday and this isn’t a usual year.

“I think it’s going to be a more intimate Thanksgiving for a lot of people this year,” said Breannah Newton, general manager of the Frog Hollow Hospitality Group.

Newton stopped accepting pre-orders on Wednesday after an overwhelming rush of customer requests for their Thanksgiving meal dinner.

“So with COVID and the smaller gatherings being encouraged, a lot of people are seeing smaller thanksgiving than they normally do,” Newton said. “A lot of people are not wanting to do that really big dinner.”

A recent survey from Information Resources Incorporated shows 29 percent of families plan to host or attend a Thanksgiving meal with extended family this year, which is down from 48 percent last year.

As a result, the survey predicts a decline in grocery sales. It didn’t predict the sudden spike in pre-order sales at local restaurants.

“Crazy busy, we have seen about triple the orders than we typically do this time of year,” Newton said.

Wife Saver normally caps sales at the end of business the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The owner tells us he started turning orders away Friday of last week. There is even a waitlist for pre-orders at Cracker Barrel.

“A nice little chunk of revenue to kind of bounce back after the lack thereof that we saw during Masters Week,” Newton said.

Thanksgiving is proving to be a much needed financial break for local business and a much-needed break from our kitchens at home.

“This is a year for them to break and relax and let us do the work, and we are super thankful for that opportunity,” Newton said.

Good news for procrastinators. It is not too late to order. California Dreaming is accepting orders up until 5:30 p.m Thanksgiving. Popeyes is offering Cajun-style turkeys through the holiday too. If Thanksgiving is any indicator for Christmas then here is your word of warning: order early.

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