By: Bora Kang
Thanksgiving Day is synonymous to family and lots of good food, but that doesn’t mean that the food has to be made at home. Preparing Thanksgiving dinner can seem like a daunting task for those seeking a relaxing time off from work and quality time with their families. And with people (particularly millennials) cooking less at home, more are turning to restaurants seeking a stress-free solution to their holiday conundrums.
Let’s take a look at the numbers: in 2011, National Restaurant Association’s survey of 1,022 adults showed that about 6% of consumers planned to dine out for a Thanksgiving meal. The same survey conducted in 2017 showed that about 9% planned to enjoy Thanksgiving at a restaurant. NRA also found that 25% of consumers planned to order a full takeout meal from a restaurant, with consumers with children more likely to order full restaurant takeout meals than those without kids. The 2018 census showed that approximately 34 million families have one or more children under 18 living in the household.
And Black Friday? NRA found that 43% planned to shop on those days, with 72% of them expressing that they would eat out while they were out shopping.
With demand ever increasing, more restaurants are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day to serve special holiday meals for their customers. Those that will open this year include not only the fast food chains such as Burger King, McDonalds, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts but also restaurant chains such as Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s, Golden Corral, Capital Grille, Legal Sea Foods and Maggiano’s. Even a few Michelin-star establishments such as Eleven Madison Park in NYC and Acadia in Chicago will be open (full list in the reference).
There are, however, important figures to consider when deciding to open your restaurant during the holidays. For example, 31% of NRA’s survey participants said that on Thanksgiving Day they planned to dine at restaurant where they are regulars; 30% opted for restaurants that they considered for “special occasions” and 21% said they would dine at their favorite restaurant. Only 18% said that they would try a new restaurant on Thanksgiving. This means that restaurants have a better chance of higher sales reaching out to their established customer base.
Offering a variety of dining options seems to be another great strategy. Boston Market, for example, announced To-Go Thanksgiving meals back in 2016 and reported increased Thanksgiving sales. The restaurant has also come up with multiple meal package solutions, from Heat & Serve Thanksgiving Meals, Thanksgiving Catering Buffets and a La Carte, which all have been successful.
Deciding whether your restaurant should stay open for the holiday is not easy. And it isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have ample staff members working for you, the restaurant may not have enough employees who are willing to work on a holiday. A Thanksgiving menu might not fit in with the restaurant’s brand, and more planning might be needed in order to make changes and offer specials.
Despite the obstacles, staying open on Thanksgiving is a great opportunity for restaurants to generate more sales, showcase their iteration of favorite holiday dishes and give your customers who already know and love your restaurant something to remember you by.
Goliath Consulting Group is a restaurant consultancy based in Norcross, Georgia. Goliath consults to independent, chain and franchised restaurant concepts across the US. In addition, the company manages and is in partnerships with several metro Atlanta restaurant concepts. For more information go to: www.goliathconsulting.com or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.