Reservation books filled on Thanksgiving
EAGLE COUNTY — Turkey can be tricky. That’s why Mike Fernandez and his crew at Moe’s Barbecue in Eagle smoked more than 100 of the birds for Thanksgiving customers to take home. A big turkey dinner can be a lot of work, too. That’s why many people decide, “To heck with that — we’re going out.”
With the birds smoked and delivered, Moe’s is closed today. But a number of local restaurants today will host any number of families, friends and others for lunch, dinner or just a round of drinks.
New and familiar Faces
At the Gashouse in Edwards, co-owner Andy Guy said he sees a lot of the same people year after year on the last Thursday in November. It’s an interesting mix of people, he said.
“In the summer we’re probably 60 percent locals and 40 percent visitors,” Guy said. “In the winter, we might be 90 percent visitors.” Thanksgiving, Guy said, is just about split between the two crowds.
And people have made the Gashouse part of their holiday tradition. Guy said a number of people finish their meals, then make reservations for next year before they leave that day.
Guy said the Gashouse hosts parties from couples to large groups, to singles who have their dinner at the bar. The restaurant also sees plenty of people who have moved to the valley and can’t make it home for the holiday. Those people — groups of friends — make up a significant number of the big tables the restaurant will serve.
“For those people, their new family is their friends, so you’ll have 10 or 12 people who celebrate together,” Guy said.
options for every palate
In Vail Village, La Tour restaurant sees many of the same types of people.
Restaurant co-owner Lourdes Ferzacca said guests on Thanksgiving range from those spending the holidays in hotel to those who simply don’t want to put in the work required for a proper Thanksgiving dinner — or who don’t want to accommodate relatives with special diets, or who might just be picky eaters.
Ferzacca said one familiar family has a member who’s “super finicky.” It’s easier for a restaurant with a full menu to handle that person. Another family, from Mexico, likes a traditional dinner of turkey with mole sauce. That sauce takes time to prepare.
“And it’s a party of 18,” Ferzacca said of the big family. “It’s easier to go out. And they don’t have to clean up, either.”
Then there’s the matter of catering to different tastes.
The Blue Plate Bistro — as well as the Gashouse and La Tour — offer full menus on Thanksgiving.
“We tried having just turkey dinner one year and everyone wanted something else,” Blue Plate co-owner Elli Roustom said. “Now, we have the full menu and it seems like most people want turkey.”
Guy said since Thanksgiving often comes around the time international ski teams are in the valley, the Gashouse often hosts team members, who want buffalo or elk, not turkey.
A Good Host First
Restaurants are in the business of being good hosts, of course, but holidays are something special — people working want some time with their families, too.
That’s one reason Moe’s is closed for Thanksgiving. At the Gashouse, Guy said no one on staff works a full day. Some come in early and leave by about 5 p.m. so they can have dinner with their friends or family. Another group comes in for the dinner shift, so their turkey time can come a little earlier.
But, Guy said, most of the people who work at the Gashouse will come in for a staff get-together.
There’s a staff meal at La Tour, too, and Ferzacca said that’s a good time to remind employees why they’re at the restaurant on a holiday.
Just like many other restaurants, La Tour expects big crowds this year. Ferzacca said the place is busy enough that her partner and husband, head chef Paul Ferzacca, will have to go into the restaurant early on the holiday. That means Paul will have to heed the advice the Ferzaccas often give their employees.
“We tell them, you may be working, but (the guests) are traveling,” Ferzacca said.