Thanksgiving out?

Published 9:55 pm Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Families looking for an alternative to the backbreaking work of cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home have plenty of options nearby for Thanksgiving feasts.

Piccadilly Cafeteria and Cracker Barrel both will offer home-style meals to guests either for dine-in or for take-home meals. The restaurants’ offerings allow convenience for people who have no family in the area or want to take the family out, or simply want a switch from tradition.

“We’ve done this for a number of years,” Cracker Barrel spokeswoman Julie Davis said. “It’s such a busy day to begin with, it just makes a lot of sense to do it this way.”

According to research by the National Restaurant Association, about one in 10 Americans celebrates Thanksgiving Day by dining in a restaurant each year. More than half of consumers use restaurant-prepared takeout for all or part of their meals.

“We do see a lot of people on Thanksgiving Day,” said Angele Anson, vice president of marketing for Piccadilly. “You do have people who want to take a break on the holidays and just go out to eat, instead of having to stay home. It can become a tradition.”

Piccadilly will offer a $9.99 holiday meal on Thanksgiving Day, which includes ham or turkey with dressing, three home-style sides, freshly baked bread, dessert and a drink. The regular menu of favorites also will be available.

Piccadilly’s holiday to-go packages, which can be ordered online, feed eight to 10 people and include a choice of turkey or ham, two sides, 12 rolls and pumpkin or pecan pie. Guests also have the option to add extra side items, or extra turkey or ham.

At Cracker Barrel, dine-in customers will enjoy oven-baked turkey breast with cornbread dressing and turkey gravy, ham, sweet potato casserole, cranberry relish, a selection of vegetables, biscuits and corn muffins, and desserts. Including a beverage, the meal will cost $8.99 for adults or $4.49 for children.

The to-go option at Cracker Barrel will offer many of the same options as the dine-in menu for $49.99. In addition, pies are available for $7.99, with the choices of pecan pie, chocolate pecan pie, apple pecan streusel pie or no-sugar-added apple pie.

“The holiday to-go packs are another way to provide that hassle-free type of holiday meal,” Anson said. “Customers can pick up a holiday to-go pack with turkey, ham and all the trimmings that also provides convenience.”

Davis said she thinks eating out — or ordering in — makes perfect sense on holidays.

“It makes it a lot easier for people to have holidays in their home,” Davis said. “They don’t want to do all that cooking and cleaning, and this way you get to spend a lot more time with your family.”

To Davis, Cracker Barrel is the go-to restaurant when it comes to holidays.

“When people think of authentic American country cooking, they think of Cracker Barrel,” Davis said. “To me, it’s natural for people to turn to us on this very American holiday. Coming to Cracker Barrel gives them the opportunity to spend time with their family. It is one of the busiest days of the year for us.”

Apparently, plenty of people thought it was a good idea last year. Between dine-in and take-home meals, Cracker Barrel restaurants served more than 163,000 pounds of turkey and more than 65,000 pounds of ham on Thanksgiving Day 2008.

The nearest Cracker Barrel restaurant is located at 4700 Portsmouth Blvd., Chesapeake. Call 405-3890.

The nearest Piccadilly Cafeteria is located at Chesapeake Square, 4200 Portsmouth Blvd., Chesapeake. Call 465-5661.