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Should Your Restaurant Stay Open on Thanksgiving?

More and more families have decided to make Thanksgiving dinner reservations at a local restaurant, instead of preparing an elaborate meal at home. This phenomenon is bringing more business to restaurants during the holiday season, but it also puts strain on your staff and keeps them away from their families. In this guide, we’ve listed a few popular chain restaurants open on Thanksgiving, as well as some key factors that can help you decide whether to keep your restaurant open.

More People are Spending Thanksgiving Away from Home

Recently, the National Restaurant Association conducted a survey and found that about 33 million Americans have Thanksgiving at a restaurant, or order takeout food to enjoy at home. More than 15 million Americans make plans to eat out for the holiday, and that number continues to grow. This trend directly parallels the number of people eating at restaurants in general. When Thanksgiving preparations are handled by a professional kitchen, families can relax and enjoy each other’s company. Your restaurant may be well-positioned to take advantage of this trend.    

Location Plays a Role with Thanksgiving Traffic

Before making a decision about Thanksgiving, consider your restaurant clientele. If there aren’t many families in your area, it might be pointless to stay open. For example, college towns typically turn into ghost towns for the week of Thanksgiving. You can also gauge customer demand by preselling Thanksgiving reservations at a lower price, and adjusting your plans to match the demand.   

Your Employees’ Well-Being Should Be a Determining Factor

Of course, staying open on Thanksgiving will keep employees away from their families, which is a sad fact of life for many foodservice employees. If you have a strong team ethic and close relationships with your staff, they will power through Thanksgiving as a restaurant family. However, if you’re running the restaurant as a strict business, you may experience anger and resentment from your staff.

Customers May Take a Stance Against Your Thanksgiving Hours

Sometimes, last-minute emergencies can get in the way and derail a proper Thanksgiving meal. There are thousands of restaurants that stay open during the holiday, but reservations fill up months in advance. What restaurant is open on Thanksgiving when you’re in a pinch? Here are just a few popular chain restaurants with Thanksgiving hours:

  • Buca di Beppo

  • Cracker Barrel

  • Marie Callendar’s

  • Morton’s Steakhouse

  • Romano’s Macaroni Grill

  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House

  • TGI Fridays

  • Waffle House

If you decide to stay open, we've got you covered with this Thanksgiving cooking guide!

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