Restaurants prepare for much smaller Thanksgiving amid COVID-19

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As many restaurants struggle during the pandemic and people come to terms with the idea of a smaller Thanksgiving, some restaurants have worked special catering into their business plans for the holidays.

Kate Carr with Garces Group said Thanksgiving is usually a big eat-in holiday for restaurants. This is the first time the restaurant group has focused on take-out meals for the holiday.

"We specifically designed them to be for two people to keep your COVID circle tight, and it might just be four or five of you at dinner," she said.

Joshua Zameska with El Camino Real said Thanksgiving will likely look different too.

"The smaller portions take away from that thought of that bountiful Thanksgiving table," he noted.

He said this is expected to be a holiday season like no other for them.

"Traditionally our catering is for office parties or large, family gatherings. Unfortunately, those things aren't happening," said Zameska, "so it's a lot of grab-and-go stuff, smaller groups for two or for four."

Joe Monnich with Stove and Co. Restaurant Group says Thanksgiving through New Year's is usually a big time for holiday parties and large group catering.

"There are going to be businesses that aren't going to survive," he lamented. "That's up to the government to help us and subsidize some of these losses."

Small-group Thanksgiving catering might help temporarily, but Zameska is among those who clearly feels the responsibility of providing jobs for long-time employees who he's seen through all kinds of life circumstances.

"How many people I can schedule and how many people I can keep employed..." he began, before trailing off, holding back tears.

"It's very emotional when you think about taking people's livelihood and... sorry, just give me a second," Zameska said, struggling.

Monnich pointed out while ordering from restaurants won't help them make a profit this year, it'll help them survive to stay open another day.

"This year's a wash. I get it," he said. "It's all about next year and beyond."