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Thanksgiving takeout: Pandemic drives demand

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 7:28 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 8:22 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - As people plan to avoid their usual gatherings, the burden of preparing the holiday meal is shifting; local restaurants are stepping in to help.

With more empty seats at the table than usual this Thanksgiving Day, restaurants like Merchant in Madison are cooking up a plan to keep stomachs full.

“We’ve seen a tremendous outpouring of demand for Thanksgiving meals this year,” Josh Berkson, owner of Merchant and Lucille said.

Berkson’s restaurants have added 100 more meals to their pre-order list after selling out of their first 200.

“Just to get the number of meals out, we have to use both kitchens at Merchant and Lucille just to cook it all,” Berkson said.

Those numbers include a variety of people in Dane County hunkering down for the holiday.

“Young couples, single households, and I think we’re seeing a lot of demand from the students as well,” Berkson said.

Across town at Hilldale Mall, Great Dane General Manager Christy Coombs and her co-workers are following suit.

“We understand the community might not feel safe coming in for a dine in,” Coombs said. “I really do think the key to our success is being adaptable.”

All Great Dane locations have sold a total of 85 take-and-bake holiday meals and are preparing for more orders placed on Thursday.

“I hope it gives people a really nice home-cooked meal and brings back some sense of normalcy for them,” Coombs said.

It may not be a normal Thanksgiving this year, but local restaurants are working on a recipe to keep sprits up.

“It’s just exciting that we can do what we can do and reach out to people at home like this,” Berkson said.

Other restaurants offering Thanksgiving Day meals to-go include the Food Fight restaurant group, Casetta, the Edgewater and Heritage Tavern.

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