Friday, November 14, 2008

Buffets at Thanksgiving

When I was in the Lancaster. PA area on the first weekend of November I noticed that a number of the local buffet restaurants that were serving Thanksgiving buffet dinners were already sold out or had waiting lists for the scheduled seatings. It struck me that in a rural farm area where you would expect to find families gathered around their own dining room tables for Thanksgiving, so many were going out to a buffet to celebrate their Thanksgiving feast.

This started me thinking about the benefits of a buffet restaurant for Thanksgiving or any holiday. Of course, there is the obvious reason to go out to eat on any holiday and that is that you don't have to cook - especially a meal the magnitude of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. You get all the whole meal with any of the work - and probably at less expense. Beyond that though, there is a great benefit to a buffet dinner for Thanksgiving for single people or couples without families. You will never feel lonely at a buffet. You are surrounded by people that are enjoying themselves. This holds at a buffet much more than it does at a plated-meal restaurant. There is a different atmosphere and often the people around you seem friendlier and more welcoming. Though the informality of some buffet restaurants is not always a good thing, on a holiday it can be wonderful for those who seek to become "part of a family" and not be alone. There is also a benefit at a buffet for families with picky eaters who don't always like what is found in a Thanksgiving dinner. At the buffet everyone may choose what they like - and generally, something that they like will be there.

Many chain and local buffets are open on Thanksgiving. Some require advanced reservations and some do not. Some have special seating times where you must arrive at a specified time and be done before the next seating. All, generally, recognize the day with a traditional menu, either replacing their usual Thursday offerings or adding the Thanksgiving dishes to them. But, don't expect every buffet restaurant to be open. I know of a few noted buffets who close on Thanksgiving to give their employees a holiday. If you are planning on going to a buffet for Thanksgiving it is best to call as soon as possible and learn what the plan is for that restaurant for the day.

Chains, such as Old Country Buffet, function as usual with a line at the door and no reservations required. There will be crowds and a wait so anticipate this when making your plans to go Expect the meal to be geared toward the holiday, but don't expect anything different than what you would normally find at that restaurant. If their turkey is usually a carved turkey breast that is what it will be on Thanksgiving. Don't expect to go and see a whole roast turkey with drumsticks. They will put those dishes that they serve through the year that comprise a Thanksgiving dinner on the buffet on Thanksgiving. Usually, there are no surprises.

Am I going to a buffet for Thanksgiving? I would but my good wife likes to have both of our families to our home for Thanksgiving Dinner. I must say, however, that if one of the great buffets was near me, I would surely be considering it. To not have to cook, to not have to clean up afterward, and to not have to prepare for a dinner for a week that lasts about two hours - find a buffet!

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