Thanksgiving could mean big business for restaurants amid pandemic

Many people are following expert advice and canceling their traditional Thanksgiving celebrations -- opting for smaller gatherings. For some, that means less cooking and instead ordering takeout -- which could also mean big business for restaurants.

At lunch rush at Miss Molly's Cafe and Pastry Shop, workers prepared drinks and food for takeout on Friday, Nov, 13. They also packed sweet treats for families. It is perfect practice for what is to come.

"Pulling off a full Thanksgiving dinner out of our 300 square foot kitchen would have never crossed our minds," said Molly Sullivan, cafe owner.

Sullivan is part of a growing number of restaurant owners offering Thanksgiving meals as families scale back traditional plans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Molly Sullivan

"We already have a lot of orders. We’re going to have a really busy few days leading up to Thanksgiving," Sullivan said.

The meal kits will come with all of the fixings.

"Each kit will come with sliced turkey breast," Sullivan said. "Green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes."

"I think folks can still celebrate Thanksgiving either by going out to eat or getting it catered or picked up at the restaurant," said Kristine Hillmer of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.

Kristine Hillmer

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association believes businesses will benefit and offers this advice to customers.

"Pre-ordering is really important if you want to have it that day," Hillmer said.

Pre-orders have come into Milwaukee's Oak Barrel Public House. The business is offering fresh-made meals for people to heat at home.

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"We’re going to take that responsibility on for them and provide a meal for them where we can cook their Thanksgiving meal," said David Gawlick, Director of Operations at Oak Barrel Public House.

David Gawlick

It is offering a heaping help of support during an uncertain season.

A quick note -- some restaurants require you to pick up your meal the day before or morning of Thanksgiving.

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