11/23/11 — Need help with Thanksgiving?

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Need help with Thanksgiving?

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 23, 2011 1:46 PM

For a growing number of people the kitchen is not where they want to spend most of their Thanksgiving or Christmas Day -- or even the day before.

Fortunately, there are other options available to help them escape the long hours that it normally takes to prepare a holiday feast. The same options also provide a way for them to help their less-fortunate neighbors.

Fully prepared meals may be purchased in advance from places like K&W Cafeteria in Berkeley Mall and the Piggly Wiggly deli in Mount Olive. Both prepare take-out meals year-around, but experience a sharp increase in demand over the holidays.

"(Meals) are very popular," said K&W Cafeteria Manager Michael Davis. "I have been on the phone all morning scheduling pickups for every 15 minutes. There are not many pickups on Thanksgiving Day. Most people try to pick them up by Wednesday, but if you need to pick up on Thursday, we will do it.

"It keeps us on our toes that day. The way times are now we take orders up to the last minute if possible."

Some groups use the holiday meals as a way to help others, he said. Davis said he already has received calls from local businesses and churches for orders.

"They come by and pay for it and give the ticket to the (needy) family that comes in and picks it up," he said.

The cost is $99 for a meal that will feed 18 to 20 people and $49.99 for one that will feed up to eight. The meal includes sliced dark and light meat turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, yam soufflé, rolls and two vegetables. A variety of pies are also available and cost $8.15 each.

People who don't want turkey can order ham instead -- more of a favorite at Christmas, Davis said. The ham comes with potato salad instead of dressing.

"We have been doing the takeouts for 10 years," Davis said. "It's done throughout the year and not just at holidays."

Davis said a lot of families also dine in at the cafeteria on Thanksgiving, whether they are from the area or from out of town.

"If they want to have a family get-together here, it's a decent price," he said.

He said the restaurant serves about 1,700 to 1,800 people in all, including dine-in, take-out and those just wanting pies.

"It's pretty steady -- get a handful of people," he said.

Davis has spent the past 13 Thanksgivings at K&W, in Goldsboro and other locations.

"At about 6 p.m., when things slow down, I have my family here and we have our Thanksgiving," he said.

The Thanksgiving Day special includes roast turkey with dressing and cranberry sauce, two vegetables, fresh baked bread, scratch-made dessert and coffee or iced tea for $6.99 plus tax.

The cafeteria will close at 8 p.m. today and will be open Thanksgiving Day from 10:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Take-out is available for pick-up at 9 a.m. The restaurant will be closed on Christmas Day.

Holiday meals have been a tradition for more than 20 years at the deli in the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Mount Olive.

'We sell a tremendous amount right here at Thanksgiving and we will do it again at Christmas," said deli Manager Linda Herring.

The meal consists of a small turkey, about 12-14 pounds, stuffing, a quart of giblet gravy and a can of cranberry sauce for $32.99.

"This is fully cooked and ready to go," she said. "All you are going to have to do is pop it in the oven on Thursday and re-heat it. If you just want a turkey breast and don't care for a whole lot of turkey we can cook that for you for $16.99"

Or people can choose a variety of hams -- smoked or sugar cured fresh hams for $3.99 per pound fully cooked and ready to go. Also offered are smoked picnic hams for $2.99 a pound.

The number of orders varies from year to year, but so far this year the number is up, she said. There are a lot of repeat customers as well, she said.

"We are anticipating a real good year this year," Ms. Herring said.

The deli also will be cooking collards, butter beans, yams and other traditional holiday trimmings that may be purchased separately and in various quantities up to gallon sizes that cost $18.99 as well as sweet or unsweet tea for $3.99 per gallon.

"Well, it's great for the working woman," Ms. Herring said. "When they get off work Wednesday afternoon all they have to do is come by and pick up their meals for the next day. It's great for that. It is great for people who are elderly and their family is coming and they are not able to prepare. It is very convenient for a lot of people for different reasons.

"We like to have at least two days notice to have time to defrost and bake the turkeys. Hams can normally be ready the day they are ordered as long as it is not too early in the morning. If they want it before lunch they need to let us know a day ahead."

Separately priced desserts include some seasonal-flavored cakes such sweet potato, pumpkin pound cake, apple walnut and cranberry. Pies include pecan, coconut custard sweet potato, pumpkin.

Along with saving time, the meals are also a matter of saving money, Ms. Herring said. For example, just the dressing would require bread crumbs, herbs, eggs, celery, and broth, she said.

For those who want to grab breakfast the morning of Thanksgiving or a late-night snack, the Waffle House is open 24 hours on all holidays.

Manager James Jones said this will be his first Thanksgiving working at the Waffle House.

"I'm expecting like an overload - all day, all night, all weekend," he said.

He said the restaurant will be offering their normal daily specials.

"We may do something for the kids," he said.

Renee Duval, grill operator and server, has worked at the Waffle House on Berkeley Boulevard in Goldsboro for the past four years and has experienced the Thanksgiving rush a number times.

"Usually, it's way more busy than you would think. You think people would stay home. On Christmas, it's the same way too."

She said the each of the three shifts generates about $2,000 to $3,000.

A lot of families come out for the holiday, she said.

"We'll have them lined up all the way to the door," Ms. Duval said. "A lot of military come, too, because they don't have their families here and they want that home-cooked food."