Eating Out For Thanksgiving? Read This First.

Here we are just one day away from when so many of us sit at a table surrounded by our loved ones, or if we’re really unfortunate, our family, and give thanks for all things. More and more these days, people look at their kitchen on Thanksgiving day and say, “I quit this bitch” and pile themselves into their mini-van and head over to a restaurant. Let us give thanks to those servers who relinquish their own holiday so that they can be at work and serve everyone else who is too lazy to make their own goddamn Butterball.

We’ve all done it. Working in a restaurant on Thanksgiving is about as fun as fishing out the bag of giblets from that turkey carcass you bought at the Met Food. What makes it so difficult to be at work on Thanksgiving is that customers have extraordinary expectations for this particular meal. People spend 364 days thinking about what’s going to go onto their plate on the fourth Thursday in November. Too often, they are dissatisfied with what they get at a restaurant on Thanksgiving.

If you are going to go out to eat on Thanksgiving, there are some things to keep in mind:

  •  No, the pumpkin pie does not taste like your great Aunt Fanny’s. Your great Aunt Fanny doesn’t work here. The pie was made by a man named José.
  • Your server is probably not getting holiday pay for being at work on a holiday. He is still getting his $2.13 an hour if he lives in some states. The people who are truly making the bucks for working on Thanksgiving are private cater waiters and NFL players.
  • I know you like drumsticks. Everyone likes drumsticks. Your table can’t all have drumsticks because each turkey we made unfortunately had only two legs. If you want to eat the turkey that has five legs, you need to eat at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Reactor Diner.
  • Our cranberry sauce only looks funny to you because it was made from fresh cranberries and did not slide out of a can.
  • Please do not take the newspaper into the restroom with you. You’re not at home.
  • There is no television that we are going to plug into an extension cord and roll over to your table so you can watch the game. 
  • Yes, of course you can have seconds. It’s just that in a restaurant it’s called “ordering something else.”
  • Your server also thinks your mother-in-law is a bitch.
  • When you are finished eating, please do not unbutton your pants and lean back in your chair for a nap. There are other customers waiting for your table.
  • Your waiter will be happy to get you some more butter for that fifth roll you are cramming into your face, but please do not be surprised when you see a surcharge for the third, fourth and fifth rolls. An order of rolls consists of two.
  • Your server does not want to have anything to do with your camera. He does not want to take the picture nor be in it. Ask someone else to do it.
  • Save the familial drama for home. Table 12 does not want to listen to table 11 arguing about what the limit is for the Secret Santa drawing. We all know that nobody wants Grandma to draw their name and nobody cares that your ex-wife still wants to be in the drawing.
  • No, you cannot take the centerpiece home.
  • When you say grace and give thanks for the bountiful feast you are about to gorge upon, take a moment to also give thanks to everyone who is at work while you are not.
  • Please tip 20%. The waiter wants to make sure that giving up his holiday was worth it. 

If you are one of the brave souls who will be wearing an apron on Thanksgiving day and punching a time clock, good luck. May the tips be as plentiful as the leftover turkey sandwiches. No matter how bad it gets, always remember that it could be worse. The very first Thanksgiving between the  Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians way back in 1621 (it didn’t become a national holiday until until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln made it so) also had a  server and she had it really bad. Her name was Myrna. She cooked all the food using only an open flame and a cast-iron pot. She had no help because all the other pilgrims hated Myrna because she had scurvy and the Native Americans didn’t help her either because they were too busy trying to figure out to get rid of all the palefaces. Myrna cooked all the food, served all the food and then she washed all the dishes down in the river. Her only tip was a cup of maize and a leaflet telling her to find Jesus. So servers, do it for Myrna!

Happy Thanksgiving! (I would be thankful if you shared this.)

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    13 thoughts on “Eating Out For Thanksgiving? Read This First.

    1. Renee

      I actually enjoy working Thanksgiving, but that's because it enables me to avoid the family tug-of-war and the inevitable whining and guilt-tripping that goes on after the joyous occasion.Plus there is nothing that makes your own dysfunctional bundles of love seem like the Brady Bunch like seeing other peoples fruits, flakes, and nuts!!

    2. Jill

      Hubby and I are eating at a restaurant tomorrow to avoid the mother in law drama. But, yes, I will gladly tip 20%. And be extra patient as we wait for a table to open up.

    3. MaeZ

      Last year my man and my grandma went to Ruby Tuesday's near my hometown in IA. I know, I know, giant mega chain, but they do a really yummy buffet for Thanksgiving and Easter. My boyfriend even liked it, and he HATES chains with a passion. Anyway, the server we had last year was by far the best server EVER! She was a doll. Grandma loved her, I loved her, my bf would have loved her if he didn't love me so much. We made sure to reward her with a great tip because she absolutely deserved every penny!

    4. Anonymous

      I hate to do it, but yes, we are eating at Cracker Barrel this afternoon. My husband works in the hotel business every Thanksgiving, so it's just not a big day for us. It will be just the two of us dining out. We're low maintenance and great tippers, so I like to think we can be a bright spot in someone's day. I also know what it's like to work on Thanksgiving because I worked for KMart years ago when they started opening on Thanksgiving mornings. Before that I worked at a fast food chain that opened for the breakfast shift only. I even worked in a hospital cafeteria one year. People can be miserable, wretched assholes when they go out on a major holiday, so I hope we can be better than that plus leave a 30% tip 🙂

    5. Mary A.

      I just don't see going out to dinner on Thanksgiving. I get going to the MOVIES on Thanksgiving, but that is totally different.Dude — if you don't wanna cook put a hungry man turkey dinner in the microwave.

    6. Anonymous

      7412What great blog you have! I love it! Here's my advice for people like me who got burned out on shopping and cooking for a week (while working full time plus) to make a meal for relatives and friends who all requested something special but didn't know how to make it themselves. Do go out to eat, but don't drag a crowd along with you. Instead take only the family members who actually live with you. Go to the best buffet you can afford and treat the servers and carvers there the way you wish your family had treated you (be polite and grateful and take what you are given without making annoying special requests). Then leave a 20% tip plus some extra so you can feel the glow of generosity all the way home.

    7. Anonymous

      I asked off for thanksgiving, it was a BFD this year, the gender reveal of my baby and all (yes, I DO think I'm so goddamn special that I want to celebrate and surprise my family) and my boyfriend and mother's birthdays. It was just a big freaking day that involved me getting off at 7 am, going home to prepare EVERYTHING so that when I woke up from my 3 hour nap I could get going on the cooking, get ready, and go. Did I get off Thanksgiving? Noooo. Even though every single other person got to work the desk for four hours, my manager thought it would be just swell for me to come in and be the only person who would be working a full shift, because it's simply rude to force someone to come in at 3 or 4 am and relieve me. I'm pissed because he gave me the impression no one else even gave any fucks about that day, it wasn't special to them.Oh wow, look at me ranting..anyway, I've been out to eat once on Thanksgiving. I was about 16, and my grandma decided she didn't want to cook anything (cool) so we all had to go out (what?!) it was awful. it was a buffet. it was the worst pumpkin pie in the world (too..liquidy) it was unforgivable. I can never feel bad for someone working on a holiday, I've always had to unless it was a place that was closed, but I'm not going to eat out on a holiday. that's just sinful.


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