Restaurants and caterers are finding increasing demand for prepared Thanksgiving meals, as more families outsource their holiday dinner preparation.
It’s not the stuff of Norman Rockwell paintings, but a growing number of local families are outsourcing Thanksgiving dinner.
Time-strapped families are turning to caterers and restaurants for Thanksgiving dinner, and the owners of those businesses say they are happy to meet the demand.
“They just run out of time,” said Kim Luque, co-owner of The Silent Chef in Scituate Harbor. “You’ve got two people working, and it’s much easier to have it delivered, and it’s ready to go.”
The Silent Chef is preparing more than 300 family Thanksgiving meals this year, about 10 times the number when it started in 1991.
Employees, including a group of college students home for the holidays, began prepping turkeys on Sunday and are roasting them this week. Customers can pick up or have delivered a roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, squash, pie and rolls.
The Silent Chef charges $145 for an 12 to 14 pound turkey with all the extras, and $185 for a 22 to 24 pound bird that will take care of 14 people, with leftovers.
Sensing a business opportunity, Firefly’s Bar-B-Cue started offering catered Thanksgiving dinners last year featuring cider-brined turkeys and fixings.
“As busy as everyone’s lives are, I think what this does is give people the opportunity to really enjoy Thanksgiving with their family,” owner Steve Uliss said.
The chain, which has restaurants in Quincy, Marlboro and Framingham, charges $52 for a prepared dinner for a family of eight. It had received more than 250 orders last week, on pace to exceed last year’s 300 orders.
The growing appetite for professionally prepared holiday fare reflects consumers’ changing spending habits in the recession. Recent nationwide surveys indicate that while people are cutting back on their holiday gift buying this year, they plan to spend more on food and beverages while entertaining at home.
“Particularly this year with the economy and people downsizing what they’re doing as far as how they celebrate, it’s the perfect fit for budget-conscious people,” said Edward Keller, vice president of catering for Golden, Colo.-based Boston Market.
Since 1997, Boston Market has marketed heat-and-serve holiday banquets. Designed to feed six to 12 people, the dinners range from $54.99 to $89.99. In 2001, the company introduced catered holiday buffets that cost $9.99 to $11.99 per person. Minimum costs are $100 for delivered buffets and $75 for pick-up orders.
While hosts can sit back and relax instead of laboring in the kitchen, that doesn’t mean they can’t take credit for the holiday fare.
“We tell all our people to tell the guests that they made it themselves,” Luque said.
The Patriot Ledger