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Wisconsin restaurants see a boost while offering Thanksgiving dinner

Posted at 9:39 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 22:39:56-05

APPLETON, Wis. (NBC26) -- It's no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has hit local restaurants hard.

"It has been a little bit of a struggle just keeping people employed," Mark's East Side Chef Alex Shea said about the coronavirus.

"Somebody will end up having Covid and then we will have to cancel their event or move it to a different day," Renard's Catering General Manager Sam Moran.

But this thanksgiving, local restaurants and caterers are using the holiday as a way to make up for past struggles. That's the case for Shea.

"We knew that we had enough people to do it, and [we] were like 'sure let's do it,'" Shea said about selling Thanksgiving dinner. "So we're doing a pre-order for it [and we] booked in just shy of 400 turkey dinners for two [people] -- so about 800 people there."

Mark's East Side in Appleton hasn't provided Thanksgiving meals in 20 years.

"To do this amount of work with the volume that Mark's East usually does generate would be quite a feat," Shea said.

But now that the restaurant is handing out to-go Thanksgiving meals, business is booming. It's up at Renard's Catering too.

"It's been a lot busier, that's for sure," Moran said. "The last three days have been a lot busier than they have been for the last six months [to] eight months."

Without large Thanksgiving gatherings during Covid, smaller groups of people are looking to places like Mark's East for dinner. So for some local businesses, this week has been a glimpse of what it was like before the pandemic.

"It's a lot of work to just do for two people," Shea said. "Whether you're making a small turkey or a big turkey... for two people or 15 people, it's about the same amount of work."