How Do Chain Restaurants Celebrate Thanksgiving?

A look at how the big players alter their menus to accommodate a turkey-craving crowd

Thanksgiving is the holiday that, more than any other, conjures images of home-cooked meals, and extended families gathering around the dinner table to enjoy them. But that’s not the case for everyone. In fact, the National Restaurant Association claims that 14 million people eat their Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant every year, and plenty of those meals will be eaten at national chains.

Chains don’t make it a habit of completely changing menus around and only offering dishes for one day a year, but they realize that by offering a special meal for Thanksgiving, it allows them to tap into a market that’s growing by the year. And some of these places really go all-out, while others keep it a bit more low-key.

All News Wire rounded up last year’s roster of chains and their Thanksgiving offerings, and found that plenty of restaurants pulled out all the stops in planning their special menu. Cracker Barrel is known for their ample Turkey Day feasts, and served up a meal of turkey, baked ham, sweet potato casserole, cranberry relish, vegetables, a beverage, biscuits or corn muffins, and a slice of Pumpkin Pecan Streusel pie. Boston Market, Buca di Beppo,  Denny’s, Houlihan’s, McCormick & Schmick’s, Ruth’s Chris, Shoney’s, and Ted’s Montana Grill all offered traditional Thanksgiving dinners as well, and Golden Corral offered a full Thanksgiving buffet.


Some chains, however, didn’t do much of anything special. Huddle House, IHOP, Marlin & Ray’s Seafood & Sunsets, Ruby Tuesday, and Waffle House decided to stick with what they do best and not mess with their menus.