Written by Frank Lopez
When Covid-19 lockdowns were first imposed in March, it was hard to imagine that we would be celebrating the holidays with a new virus.
Thanksgiving is days away and most counties in the map are in the governor’s purple tier code that are subject to a 10 p.m. curfew.
With coronavirus cases surging nationally in the past few weeks, more people are likely to refrain from having large gatherings or traveling for this year’s turkey day.
AAA Travel projected that up to 50 million Americans would be travelling for Thanksgiving—down from 55 million in 2019. AAA expects the actual number of holiday travelers to be even lower.
According to the motor club federation, 2020 will see 47.8 million holiday travelers commuting by automobile, 2.4 million by air, and 353,000 by bus, train, or cruise ships
Last year the numbers were 49.9 million by automobile, 4.5 million by air, and 1.5 million by bus, train, or cruise ships.
As the number of Covid-19 cases keep going up the Thanksgiving table isn’t likely to be as full this year or the meals as large.
For those having a smaller Thanksgiving meal this year, or those who just don’t feel like cooking, local restaurants and catering and even companies are offering cooked feasts to take home.
Though many local restaurants offer Thanksgiving feasts to go, since restaurants have really taken a blow during the pandemic, its just another way to get some much needed revenue.
Southern Hospitality Company, a special events and catering company in Fresno has suffered a tremendous blow to business cancellation of large gatherings such as weddings, corporate events, and business parties.
Before the virus hit, owner Aaron Nielsen said that business had tripled since last year, but because of Covid-19, the company won’t be seeing any growth this year.
Southern Hospitality sells Thanksgiving feats each year, but this year, the holiday meal sales are much more crucial.
Last year, Nielsen said the company cooked around 32 turkeys.
This year, Nielsen said people will be able to order items a-la-carte and will be offering smaller packages that could feed four to six people, instead of a larger package that feeds six to eight people.
“You can just order specific items and you’re not stuck with a big package because I don’t think there is going to be a lot of people getting together. We’ve also expanded, so instead of just doing it on Thanksgiving, people can order the day before, the day of, and the day after, since people like to celebrate at different times,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen said that he thinks this year might be busier than last year because of fewer families gathering and cooking meals at home.
With Fresno being a “last minute town”, Nielsen said he expects to get a good amount of sales this Thanksgiving day.
For the last eight years, The Elbow Room in Fresno has been selling Thanksgiving dinners dine in and for take out, and Daniel McGee, general manager at the restaurant, said they sell out each year—he expects that to be the case this year.
“I’m expecting we sell out pretty quick. For a small family gathering this is a great option,” McGee said. “We’ve had some families order a couple feasts, or others order one for their home, and then one for their parents—I can see a lot of that happening this year.”
McGee said they are expected to sell around 100 turkey feasts, and 60 ham feasts. The feasts are ready for customers to pick up the day before, fully cooked, and come with reheating instructions.
Last year was the first year the restaurant sold Christmas feasts, and with the good turnout, McGee said it is likely they will offer them this year as well.
“Its been a tough year on every industry, specifically the hospitality industry. Everybody’s been thrown some curveballs in how their business organizes but its also time to take a step back, reorganize ourselves, and work on everything we can do better serve our community at this time,” McGee said.
Other eateries and markets that will be selling Thanksgiving feasts include: Tabachines Cocina, BooBoo Bean, Mad Duck Craft Brewing Co., Yosemite Falls Café, Riley’s Brew Pub, Westwoods BBQ, The Market, Sprouts and Wholefoods