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Restaurants cater to Thanksgiving diners

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This post is by SmartBlog on Restaurants and Restaurant SmartBrief contributor Janet Forgrieve.

Millions of Americans would never dream of leaving the comforting warmth of their own kitchens to dine at a restaurant on Thanksgiving, but millions more have learned to be thankful for the opportunity to relax while others cook and clean. An estimated 11% of the U.S. population opts to dine out on Thanksgiving, and more than half of consumers rely on takeout dishes from restaurants for all or part of their holiday meal, according to one estimate.

Restaurants that decide to serve Thanksgiving dinner may go traditional or get more creative with the menu. At OpenTable’s Thanksgiving directory, eateries planning to serve dinner on the day list a wide range of traditional turkey dinners, including something called a “Progressive American Thanksgiving menu” at Charlie Palmer’s in Costa Mesa, Calif., along with more exotic offerings such as an Asian-inspired Thanksgiving at Aja on Chicago’s Gold Coast.

Whether you opt to go with a traditional turkey and all the trimmings or choose to shake things up with unusual dishes likely depends largely on your restaurant’s format and typical cuisine, as well as the tastes of your guests. Whichever path you choose, there are plenty of sources for fresh recipes, such as New York Magazine’s list of secret family recipes from 11 top chefs, including Thomas Keller’s creamed pearl onions and Tom Colicchio’s Sausage Stuffing With Golden Raisins and Sage. Planning to host a vegetarian Thanksgiving? Chow shares a 10-recipe list, and nowhere will you read the word “tofurkey.” Looking to cook against the grain? Chefs at several Las Vegas restaurants plan to present decidedly nontraditional twists, from foie gras to Maine lobster.

Finally, in what surely must be one of the world’s most outrageous desserts, baker Charles Phoenix gives us the “Cherpumple,” a creation consisting of three pies baked into a three-layer cake and sealed with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. The outrageous confection has its roots in Phoenix’s observation that people like to sample a bit of each after-dinner sweet at holiday time, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Many eateries are also creating new recipes for marketing their Thanksgiving meals. Restaurants that count the Thanksgiving meal as an annual tradition have learned the importance of getting the word out early and often, but today’s technology also provides a slew of new and more last-minute marketing channels, including local and national blogs eager to let readers know all of their Thanksgiving dining options. OpenTable maintains a market-by-market list of eateries taking Thanksgiving reservations, Zagat offers its picks in select cities and blogger Restaurant Girl recently released its list of New York eateries celebrating the holiday, to name but a few.

And, of course, eateries and foodies around the country are already tweeting like mad about their plans, along with food and travel writers looking to help spread the message. A quick Twitter search using the keywords “Thanksgiving” and “restaurant” pulled up a long list of writers and bloggers still looking for more restaurants to write about.

Are you serving Thanksgiving dinner at your restaurant this year? If so, how will you get the word out and what will you do to make it a special meal?

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