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Should Your Restaurant Stay Open on Thanksgiving?

Keeping your restaurant open on a holiday can be a tough decision – especially when that holiday revolves around food. As a restaurant owner, you're likely torn between making profit and giving your employees the day off to spend with family and friends. While the decision to stay open or not ultimately lies with you, here are the arguments both for and against that might help make your decision a little easier, as well as some tips on how to make the best of whatever choice you make.

Stay Open and Serve that Turkey

Thanksgiving Restaurant Reservations

You may not expect it, but Thanksgiving can actually be a day for your restaurant to gobble up profit. Trust us, it’s not that crazy. In fact, many chains like IHOP, Denny’s, Boston Market, and Cracker Barrel set their tables for strangers looking for a good turkey meal. You’ll also find that many upscale establishments will offer a gourmet spin on some of your favorite Thanksgiving sides.

By staying open, your restaurant will become a space for people that don’t make set plans every year for the holiday. Many individuals don’t have a huge family gathering to attend or simply don’t have the space to host a crowd. It’s also important to realize that keeping your restaurant open on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with your own family and friends. Consider staying open for only a few hours in the afternoon, so you can be home in time for your own family’s meal.

Tips for a Serving a Thanksgiving Feast in Your Restaurant

  • Offer a preset or limited menu.
  • Serve an all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • Charge a flat-rate per person.
  • Encourage customers to make reservations.
  • Make all the traditional sides.
  • Sell Thanksgiving entrees and sides for customers to take home and serve.
  • Sell pies and desserts for take-out.
  • Advertise your holiday hours in advance, since many people won't automatically assume you’ll be open.

Close the Doors and Carve Your Own

Should Your Restaurant Stay Open on Thanksgiving?

If you operate a more traditional business and believe your employees should spend the day feasting with their families and friends, then go ahead and shut your doors on Thanksgiving Day. If you’re worried about losing profit or business, you can relax because there’s plenty of opportunity to make up for those losses on the days before and after Thanksgiving. Plus, a majority of chain and local restaurants do shut down for major holidays, so you won’t be the only one.

Closing also means you won’t have to worry about disgruntled employees, developing a special menu, or purchasing uncommon ingredients for your kitchen. Also, having the day off gives your staff plenty of time to recoup for the Black Friday rush.

Tips for Capitalizing on Thanksgiving without Staying Open

  • Make and sell homemade pies and desserts.
  • Open earlier and stay open later on Black Friday.
  • Extend hours the day before since many people don’t want to cook two nights in a row.
  • Keep your bar open late for blackout Wednesday to make up for lack of business on Thanksgiving.
  • Offer deals on appetizers and drinks the week of Thanksgiving.

The decision to close your restaurant or stay open this Thanksgiving is all up to you. While both sides have their own benefits, the choice depends on your personal perspective and your clientele. Whether you’ll be scooping mashed potatoes to customers or carving turkey for your family, we hope you enjoy the holiday!

Posted in: Holidays | Management & Operation | By Ashley Kufera
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