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Where (and how to) Dine On Thanksgiving Day

Written By Scott Joseph On November 18, 2011

On this week’s WMFE-FM segment, I speak with 90.7’s Nicole Creston about dining out on Thanksgiving Day. You can hear the segments at 5:45 p.m. Friday and again 9:35 Saturday morning. You can also listen to past podcasts here.

Thanksgiving, like most other holidays, are very busy for those restaurants that choose to be open (Arbor Day is one exception). I always find it difficult to recommend a restaurant for one of these holdiays because there are so many extenuating factors that can affect the experience. Even the best restaurants can sometimes fall short.

One of the reasons is that most of them are serving a menu that is unfamiliar to them. Just about everybody wants turkey on Thanksgiving Day. But if your restaurant’s speciality is steak or seafood or pasta and the kitchen is asked to switch gears and do turkey — and not just one, but several — plus all the trimmings, you put a strain on the cooks and staff.

Also, because there is a dearth of restaurants open on that day, those that are will be extra crowded. And the tables will be filled with families, some of whom haven’t seen each other for a while. So even the restaurant’s usual formula for predicting table turnover is out the window. Therefore, even if you have a reservation — and, by the way, you’re crazy if you show up at a restaurant on Thanksgiving without one — you may be made to wait longer past the appointed time than usual.

Best practices: be patient, be nice. Think of the nerves that are left unfrayed because you’re not having to cook the dinner at your own home, and then clean up afterwards. Don’t start fraying those nerves because you have to wait for your table, or maybe wait a little longer to be served.

And, please, keep in mind that the people who are serving you are being made to work on the holiday. Be extra nice to them, not only in the tip that you leave but in your words at the end of the meal. I promise you they will appreciate it.

As for where to dine, here’s a list of restaurants open in the Orlando area on Thanksgiving Day. For the most part, the information in these listings has been provided by the restaurants’ representatives.


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