How to Prep Your Restaurant for Thanksgiving

/ Foodservice Tips, Restaurant Tips / November 1

Thanksgiving Place Setting and Centerpiece at a Restaurant

November signals the start to a busy time of year filled with holidays, shopping 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.

Create Fall & Turkey Dishes

We’ll get to the menu for the big day in a bit. Earlier in the month, you should start to sprinkling 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. Consider whipping up a delicious butternut squash soup or a creamy chicken or veggie blend. These not only work as starters, but they also are filling when served as entrées.

Who said turkey is only for Thanksgiving Day? You can make some original turkey dishes to get customers in the mood for the upcoming holiday. Make delicious carved turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce for the lunch rush, or offer a savory turkey pot pie as a filling entrée for the dinner crowd.

Whip Up Special Dishes for the Big Day

According to a 2017 National Restaurant Association study, 9 percent of people said they planned on eating part of their Thanksgiving meal. About 4 percent said they would eat their entire meal at a restaurant.

If you plan on staying open for Thanksgiving Day, make a special menu for the occasion. 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.

Friends Having a Thanksgiving Dinner

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. It’s become a very popular event for millennials and younger crowds. Throughout November, promote your restaurant as a place to host Friendsgiving parties. 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 exceeding 10 people. 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.

Be Ready for “Thanksgiving Eve”

There are a lot of nicknames for the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. No matter what you call it, there is no doubt people like to go out that evening. A lot of friends and relatives are back in town for the holiday, making it the perfect time to catch up over dinner and drinks. Treat the evening like you would a Friday or Saturday night. Make sure your establishment is fully staffed with servers, bartenders and cooks to handle everything from the dinner rush to any festivities that could go into the early morning.

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


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