5 Tips if You’re Planning to Open Your Restaurant for Thanksgiving


For many Americans, Thanksgiving is one of the few days a year that they get to stay at home, relax, and spend the entire day with their families. However, tradition dictates that they also have to spend the entire day preparing for a huge family dinner and then spend half the night cleaning up after all that mess. It’s no wonder more Americans are flocking to restaurants for Thanksgiving. Getting rid of all that cooking, cleaning, and yelling at children not to break things makes what is supposed to be a special day another extra-stressful day.

The National Restaurant Association says 10% of Americans plan to eat out on Thanksgiving Day. Another 5% straddle the line between eating at a restaurant and dining at home by ordering full takeout meals for the holiday. The message is clear for restaurants. Those who open their doors on Thanksgiving will benefit from a huge spike in business from all those families wanting to celebrate at a restaurant. If you decide to be one of those establishments, here are some tips for you.

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Fill your pantries, commercial refrigerators, and undercounter refrigeration systems with all the ingredients that you need. You don’t want to be the restaurant that customers remember for not having enough cranberry sauce for the turkey. But be careful not to overstock. Get more than enough of your ingredients and have a solid plan on what to do with the leftovers.

2. Get your staff ready
Require your staff to volunteer to work at least on one holiday. This way, you still have plenty of employees to take care of your guests while keeping your staff happy by allowing them to choose their own schedule. If you need extra assistance, such as an additional pair of hands for manning the equipment of a restaurant,post a “Help Wanted” ad to bring in more seasonal employees.

3. Keep staff happy
Happy employees are productive employees. Show your staff that you appreciate them for choosing to work with you with a simple feast before you open your doors. If you have a budget, why not invite their families too?

4. Ask for reservations
Weeks before the holiday season, let your customers know that you are accepting reservations for Thanksgiving and other holidays. This is especially helpful if you have limited seating and wouldn’t want your guests impatiently standing around in the waiting area. You may even encourage them to order ahead so you can more accurately plan your Thanksgiving inventory.

5. Plan your menu

A lot of people will certainly look for turkey for Thanksgiving, along with some classic mashed potatoes, green beans, and a tangy cranberry sauce. These traditional holiday fare plays up the nostalgia and brings back pleasant memories of eating the same food items at home. However, don’t be shy about adding your own twist to your menu, especially if your restaurant is particularly known for a specific type of food. For example, if you’re a seafood restaurant, people who visit you even on Thanksgiving will surely look for seafood.