Thanksgiving means big business for local restaurants

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – While most people in the metro rush around making preparations for their home cooked Thanksgiving dinner, some are avoiding the hassle all together and choosing to eat out. In fact, the National Restaurant Association estimates that 14 million people will plan to do just that.

The week of Thanksgiving is a busy one for restaurants all across Kansas City, especially for those who are doing the cooking and preparations for hundreds of diners who plan to go out for Thursday’s meal.

For some professional chefs, this holiday is their favorite time of year. Phil Bowman, who currently works at the Grand Street Café, has been a chef for more than 30 years, and he considers Thanksgiving dinner to be his Super Bowl.

"Six to 700 people easily tomorrow," said Bowman, who also said he would have no issues giving up his own personal Thanksgiving so that others can have a great one.

"That's what I do. I'm a cook. I love doing this," he said.

Bowman has been preparing this Thanksgiving feast at the grand street cafe since Monday. He plans to feed more than 600 people, with 30 turkeys, 16 prime rib roasts, nine hams, 200 pounds of potatoes, and all of the traditional dishes including corn bread dressing, carrots, and cranberry sauce.

"We brine our turkey overnight right here. There we go baby," said Bowman as he showed off his turkeys.

Rick Ghilardi, the owner of the Grand Street Café, said most people eat out to avoid dealing with a mess.

"Most people want to relax, enjoy family and don't have to clean up," said Ghilardi

Ghilardi said that he plans to make 15 to 20 thousand dollars this Thanksgiving, which is more than twice what he makes on other big nights. However, it is just the start to a successful holiday season on the plaza for him and his staff, who volunteer to work.

"They sign up for this shift. They make money and it's a fun shift for them," said Ghilardi.

Although Bowman will not be with his family on Thanksgiving, he has a very important person with him in his food.

"Because I am making giblet gravy, which my mother gave me that recipe," he said.

Fourteen million people may seem like a lot, but is only six percent of the population. The biggest business is still cooking at home, which is what 55 percent of Americans will do. The rest will eat at someone else’s house.

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