5 Thanksgiving Restaurant Trends to Jump On This Year

Many people still prefer the warmth and nostalgia of celebrating Thanksgiving at home with their families. However, a growing number of Americans are choosing to dine out with their loved ones to celebrate the onset of the holidays. In fact, the National Restaurant Association says that 10% of Americans decide to ditch all the cooking and head on to restaurants for Thanksgiving instead. Another 5% still want to eat at home but opt to order takeout meals in full or to supplement their homemade menu.

Not all restaurants are open for Thanksgiving, so if you decide to offer your services on this busy day, you may see a rise in foot traffic. So get your restaurant equipments ready, stock up your commercial refrigerator, and make sure your Manitowoc ice machines are ready to churn out all the ice needed for all those pumpkin spice martinis, and take advantage of the following fall-season restaurant trends for Thanksgiving.


There’s Thanksgiving, which is spent with the family, and there’s Friendsgiving, which is a Thanksgiving meal spent with the family you choose. Friendsgiving is more popular with younger generations, with more millennials eating more than one meal compared to Baby Boomers. This non-traditional twist to an age-old custom provides a lot of room for innovation on classic Thanksgiving fare, such as turkey roulade in place of roast turkey or stuffed pumpkin instead of plain pumpkin pie.

2. Tiny Turkeys  Inventories of whole turkeys have been on the decline the last few years owing to an emerging mindset about how we treat our food. Younger customers are concerned about food waste and aren’t afraid to challenge the notion that they should be cooking 35 lbs. of turkey all at once. People also have extremely varied food interests, and more people prefer to eschew all meat altogether for plant-based meals. Younger families have also grown smaller during the last few decades, indicating that there may no longer be enough room for a huge turkey.

3. Healthy Meals

In a survey conducted by Ready Pac Foods, a whopping 81% of respondents say they want to eat healthier meals. However, almost all of them, all 70% of all who participated in the survey, do not want to prepare those meals. Restaurants should be able to take a hint here. If you can create a Thanksgiving menu of traditional dishes cooked with a healthy twist, you might be able to attract more customers to the door.

4. Diversity

The NPD Group says more families would love to add their own culture into how they celebrate Thanksgiving. According to the research firm, multicultural families would love to eat traditional dishes from their own culture or traditional American food infused with multicultural flavors. For instance, South Africans have a traditional pumpkin cookie called Pampoenkoekies. It’s made of mashed pumpkin, flour, and brown sugar deep-fried to crispy perfection on the outside and gooey chewiness on the inside.

5. Meal Kits

Meal kits have grown in popularity over the last few years. They’re not getting any less popular with the holidays. In a survey done by Technomic, 41% of respondents say they plan to order meal kits for Thanksgiving. That is not surprising at all. With people becoming busier by the week, having pre-portioned and partially prepared Thanksgiving meals can help ease off some of the holiday stress.