How to Prep Your Restaurant for Thanksgiving

/ Foodservice Tips, Restaurant Tips / November 18

Thanksgiving Place Setting and Centerpiece at a Restaurant

November signals the start to a busy time of year filled with holidays, shopping sprees and parties. With all the festivities, your restaurant can attract people looking for a place to have a relaxing meal or host an event. From marketing tips to menu ideas, here are some easy ways to prep your restaurant for Thanksgiving 2022.

Infuse Fall Flavors & Dishes

We’ll get to the menu for the big day in a bit. Earlier in the month, you should start to sprinkle in some autumn-inspired dishes. In our guide to fall menu ideas and flavors, we suggest using maple or apple glazes on everything from sweet potatoes to pork chops. Hearty food is always a must for the season, so why not concoct some fall-themed soups and entrees such as:


  • Sweet potato and kale stew

  • Pot roast and garlic mashed potatoes

  • Creamy chicken and veggie soup

  • Savory turkey wraps

For those looking to add turkey alternatives, there are many plant-based options on the market to satisfy vegans and vegetarians. For instance, seitan or tofu-based roasts allow you to keep delicious protein at the heart of a Thanksgiving entrée.

Make Your Place “Friendsgiving” Friendly

Since Thanksgiving typically is a family holiday, Friendsgiving allows friends and acquaintances to have their own feast earlier or later in the month. Throughout November, promote your restaurant as a place to host Friendsgiving parties or have a special catering deal. The menu can feature items off the Thanksgiving menu and some signature dishes from your traditional selection.

Whatever you do, be sure any marketing materials on signs or via social media clearly state that reservations must be made for parties at a certain size. This will save your staff the headache of dealing with unexpected groups.

If your establishment has a big dining room, offer up the space for large gatherings. You can charge a flat usage fee or offer packages to use the room. For instance, allow guests to bring their own food with the purchase of a package that includes appetizers and an open bar with Fall specialty drinks.

Create a Special Menu for Dine-In or Takeout

If you plan on staying open for Thanksgiving Day, make a special menu for the occasion. Also, consider if you want to offer just takeout or a combination of takeout or dine-in. With staffing being an issue, you have to ensure that you can handle a high volume of orders online and over the phone as well as accommodate patrons choosing to dine at your establishment. Whichever route you select, make sure you have a mix of menus. A few different options include:


  • Take out specials

  • Drink menus

  • Holiday themed meals

To accommodate large families and parties, consider offering family-style packages that feature everything from turkey and sides to traditional fixings and dessert. For couples or small families dining out, offer special dishes or an easy a la carte menu. This allows each person to pick the food they want to enjoy.

Get Your Equipment Up to Speed

Before the rush begins, make sure all your commercial kitchen equipment is ready to go. Routine cleaning and maintenance on everything from ovens to refrigerators is highly recommended. Here are some things to add to the list:


  • Start by checking all the gaskets and filters on your refrigerators.

  • Clean the condenser coils to keep your units operating at optimal capability.

  • On your fryers, ranges and grills, clean any filters and fans so the excess grease doesn’t slow things down.

If your commercial kitchen equipment breaks down before, during or after Thanksgiving, Parts Town has the most in-stock parts on the planet to get any unit up and running. Looking for menu ideas when it comes to drinks, appetizers and more? We have a few guides on what to serve this holiday season. Check out our articles to find the perfect Thanksgiving foods to add to your menu.


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