Hotel and tourist area restaurants have been open on Thanksgiving for years, but consumer demand is pushing more local eateries and chains to open, experts who study the industry are saying.
"For some people it's a lot easier to go out, have dinner then come home and watch football or go shopping," said Chris Muller, a professor at Boston University who studies restaurant management. "They don't have to worry about cooking an elaborate meal or cleaning up afterward."
In fact, the AudienceSCAN study revealed 12% of Americans ate Thanksgiving dinner out at a restaurant in 2016.
"Other factors spurring restaurants to open on Thanksgiving include an improving economy and a lack of cooking skills from some young people, Muller and other restaurant experts say."
"Local independent restaurants are taking reservations for Thanksgiving," Kyle Arnold wrote for Orlando Sentinel. "Tourist district hotels and eateries are expanding buffets into elaborate multi-course meals, while fast-food restaurants are opening to refuel hungry shoppers."
"Thanksgiving has been losing its status as a no-work, family holiday for years. Retailers still save their biggest sales for Thanksgiving and movie studios release star-studded films."
Restaurants can reach out to Thanksgiving Diners and let them know they're open through ad campaigns now! Tell them about turkey day menus with radio spots. The AudienceSCAN survey found Thanksgiving Diners are 73% more likely than average to take action after hearing radio (over-the-air, online, mobile or tablet) commercials.
"Restaurant operators say they are only responding to demand. Many also make working Thanksgiving voluntary for workers."
"Winter Park's Chez Vincent has been doing Thanksgiving service from 6 to 10 p.m. for 16 years, said owner Vincent Gagliano. But this year it expanded hours to open at 4 p.m."
"I don't do it earlier because I want to spend some time with my family," he said. "But we were so full last year I thought we should add two more hours this year."
"We get a lot more families than anything," said Nova general manager Westley Lynn. "There are a lot of 40- and 50-year-olds with their kids, and then couples who don't have family nearby.
Thanksgiving Diners will be searching for open options online. Make sure holiday SEM marketing is top-notch. The AudienceSCAN study reported 67% of Thanksgiving Diners took action based on sponsored search results (like on Google, Yahoo or Bing).
"I actually think people are happy about working Thanksgiving because customers tend to be a little more generous about tipping," said Post Time Lounge general manager Brian Kopp.
Many restaurants find success in preparing meals for customers to take home to eat as well.