TRAVERSE CITY — Thanksgiving Day may look different amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but northern Michiganders can still enjoy a holiday meal.
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa Executive Chef Bryant Betts said they started takeout service at the beginning of the pandemic. They thought it would work for Thanksgiving — whether people are not comfortable dining in or want an easy, ready-to-eat meal without the hassle of grocery shopping.
“We’re preparing everything in Aerie (Restaurant),” Betts said. “You can do however many people you decide or however many leftovers you want.”
Betts said the takeout menu is more traditional, featuring many items found on the table at Thanksgiving dinner: smoked turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls and a choice of pumpkin or salted caramel apple streusel pie. The meal is meant to serve four people.
“We can do as many as we can possibly book,” Betts said. “Let the professional chefs do it for you.”
Though the to-go format has been successful this year, Betts said they also wanted to serve a plated dinner at Aerie Restaurant. Dinner starts with sweet potato gnocchi, mushroom soup, Brussels sprouts and other appetizers. Entrée selections include salmon, chicken breast and pork.
“It’s a little different,” he said. “It does have your nice fall flavors. There’ll definitely be turkey, but it’s a nice twist on some Thanksgiving flavors.”
Space is limited, as Betts said the staff prioritizes safety and follows health protocols.
Firefly is also open Thanksgiving Day. In past years, the restaurant hosted a buffet, but General Manager Travis Baird said “obviously with COVID, we’re not allowed” to do that.
Instead, Firefly presents a holiday menu alongside their regular, daily offerings. This includes stuffing, turkey, Brussels sprouts and of course, desserts.
“If you want to get it, you can,” Baird said. “Some people don’t want the Thanksgiving food, maybe they don’t like turkey.”
He said 2020 has been a “weird year,” but he thinks people — particularly smaller groups — will come out for dinner.
“It’s convenient for a lot of people,” he said. “There’s always been a market for this. We plan to be busy.”
Dine-in guests can walk in and request a table. They will be put on the waitlist if seats are full.
Customers can pick up the meal or have it delivered in the city. Baird said this has been their model since the beginning of the pandemic in March.
Other restaurants are closed or only offer takeout for Thanksgiving Day. The Kitchen, for instance, provides three meal options. Individual portions include turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy. The basic dinner adds cranberry sauce and serves six people. The six-person Thanksgiving Feast incorporates green bean casserole, candied yams, 12 rolls with butter and homemade pumpkin pie. Prices vary.
Preorders are accepted, either by phone or through the restaurants’ websites.
“We can do as many as we can possibly book. Let the professional chefs do it for you.” Grand Traverse Resort and Spa Executive Chef Bryant Betts