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More having holiday meal outside home

November 22, 2000

More having holiday meal outside home



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


There's no place like home for the holidays. Unless it's your favorite restaurant.

More people are choosing to dine out for Thanksgiving instead of preparing the traditional meal at home.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 11 percent of adult Americans dined out on Thanksgiving last year, up from 8 percent in 1996.

Many families still yearn for a home-cooked meal on Thanksgiving, but some have started a family tradition of dining out, according to Tri-State area restaurant owners.

The Old South Mountain Inn in Boonsboro sees the same families year after year, said owner Judy Schwartz.

"Some of them have been coming forever, it seems," she said. "As the years go by their families grow. Grandparents, parents and then grandchildren. ... Pretty soon they're getting married."

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Schwartz said lack of time is one reason people choose to eat out.

"I think everybody's working and they don't have time to cook," she said.

Families come in groups as large as 25 and as small as two, she said.

The South Mountain Inn and the Mercersburg (Pa.) Inn were booked for today.

The Antrim House Restaurant in Greencastle, Pa., had taken more than 3,000 reservations, including one party of 32, said Steve Horst, assistant manager. The only reservations available by Wednesday for the restaurant's popular buffet were between 2 and 3 p.m., he said.

Only a few evening reservations were available at the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown, W.Va., said owner Erwin Asan.

Despite the demand, some restaurants close for the holiday. The Grille at Park Circle is one of them.

"It's been a traditional holiday for our staff," said owner Richard Roulette. "Plus, my mom cooks a turkey."

Of the restaurants that are open, most will serve the traditional turkey dinner with trimmings and a few other choices from the regular menu.

Nearly half of the people at the Bavarian will choose nontraditional dishes such as crab cakes, filet mignon or roast venison, Asan said.

When they go out to a restaurant, people have more time to spend with their families and they don't have to clean up when the meal is over, restaurant owners said.

"You don't have to deal with the dishes," said Bill Kontogiannis, owner of the Black Steer Family Steakhouse north of Hagerstown.

"The only disadvantage is people don't have anything to snack on later," said Jamie Giffin, assistant innkeeper at the Mercersburg Inn.

Whipping up your own meal is generally less expensive. It will cost less to feed the family this Thanksgiving than it did last year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

A dinner for 10 people will cost $32.37, down $1.32 from 1999, according to the group's annual survey. This is the first time the Thanksgiving dinner price has dropped since 1991.

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