Over the past several years, Thanksgiving Day has marked the kickoff date for the restaurant business gift card season, and there’s no reason to expect that 2020 will be any different.
Picking out restaurant gift cards for loved ones and friends might feel a little different this year, however. Instead of “paying forward” a cozy evening out for two during which recipients might enjoy dinner and a bottle of wine, it could prove to be an equally thoughtful gesture to gift the cost an enjoy-at-home family meal pack or two.
It’s likely that restaurants, especially independents, will extensively promote gift card sales this December as a way of locking in future sales, even if they have to do so by offering a discount, either in the form of a lower price or an extra “bonus” card for the purchaser. January is always a lean month for food service operators, and the revenue derived from gift cards sales may be helpful when it comes to paying the bills until Valentine’s Day comes along.
In past years some local operations have conducted Black Friday gift card sales over the Thanksgiving weekend, so a little shopping around might unearth a deal or two that will make gift giving dollars go further.
Taking a break from his hectic holiday schedule, Santa has agreed to appear at two “Breakfast with Santa” events sponsored by the Delaney House Restaurant in Holyoke.
Scheduled for Dec. 6 and 13, the two events offer four seatings each starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 11 a.m. Reservations are required.
A plated breakfast will be served with choices to include a yogurt parfait, scrambled eggs, breakfast meats, and bakery favorites. Pancakes and French toast will be offered family style, and adults can enjoy a champagne cocktail.
The breakfast is priced at $28.95 for adults and $14.95 for children ages four through 12. Tax and gratuity are additional.
Reservations can be made by calling (413) 535-5077.
Following the lead of Bistro Les Gras in Northampton, which earlier this month made known their intention to close during the winter holiday season, Packard’s Restaurant, another long-term presence on the Northampton dining out scene, last week announced a winter shutdown.
In a post to the restaurant’s Facebook page, Packard’s cited a concern for staff and customer safety as its motivation for closing up shop until spring. No specific reopening date was mentioned in the Packard’s post.
As part of its IHOP ‘n’ Go program of delivery and pickup options, IHOP locations are offering Holiday Family Feast breakfast packages.
Designed to generously serve four, the pickup or takeout option includes eight pancakes and four servings each of hash browns, scrambled eggs and a choice of bacon or sausage.
What makes the Holiday Family Feast special is the toppings that are part of the deal. Included for decorating the pancakes are sweet milk mousse, OREO cookie pieces, glazed strawberries, and festive sprinkles. IHOP is also offering a new “Sweet and Spicy” syrup that can be added as an extra cost side.
The Feast has a suggested retail price of under $30 and can also be ordered through a third-party delivery service.
The Holiday Feast is a limited-time-only offering, but IHOP also offers a number of other Family Feast options for breakfast, including variations that are built around French toast or waffles.
Anytime Feast packages featuring steakburgers or buttermilk crispy chicken are also available.
Greater Springfield IHOP locations can be found at the Five Town Plaza in Sixteen Acres and on Riverdale Street in West Springfield.
Confronted by the quality issues that sometimes bedevil the food to-go experience, several major restaurant chains have put their culinary wizardry to work reformulating menu items to make them travel better.
Late last month Panera Bread Bakery Cafes rolled out three new flatbread pizzas that represented reworks of pizza options originally introduced pre-pandemic.
Those flatbread formulations were modified by adding additional extra-fine flour to the crust to help it retain crispness during takeout or delivery travel time. Packaging for the pizzas now includes detailed directions for reheating as well.
The updated flatbreads are available in three variations – a cheese-topped pie, a Margherita alternative that’s topped with fresh basil, and a Chipotle Chicken Bacon version.
Panera is also offering a selection of “Family Feast” meals that include sandwiches, salad, and soup or mac ‘n’ cheese. In addition there are two breakfast-oriented “Feast” options – one built around day-starter sandwiches and a second that’s made up of an assortment of baked goods.
There are Panera locations in East Longmeadow, West Springfield, Chicopee, Hadley and Enfield, CT.
The Duck and Avellino in Sturbridge are offering a break from holiday meal preparation in the form of “Family Style Meal” packages.
Available in two sizes – one pack that serves four and a second that serves six – the meals include salad and bread.
Customers can select from five entree options – linguine & meatballs, chicken parmesan, chicken potpie, braised short rib, and cracker-crusted baked cod.
A selection of house made desserts can also be added to any order; the Duck and Avellino have a resident pastry chef who creates sweet indulgences.
Family Style Meals can be ordered by calling (508) 347-2321.
As part of its contribution to the Jack Dunphy Toy Drive, a community event in Northampton that benefits Toys for Tots, JJ’s Tavern in Florence is providing a drop-off box for the contribution of new, unwrapped toys.
The toy drive is scheduled for Nov. 30; JJ’s Tavern will be accepting donations up until that date.
The Storrowton Tavern in West Springfield has, as of October 30, begun serving a new menu at both lunch and dinner.
Those fond of traditional Storrowton favorites shouldn’t despair, however. The restaurant’s dinner time agenda continues to incorporate the likes of Yankee pot roast, baked Boston scrod, and roast duck l’orange.
Slow roasted prime rib is still available on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and, given at least six hours advance notice, the kitchen is even willing to create its version of a mid-century “continental” extravagance, chateaubriand for two. The latter is a 20-ounce cut of beef filet served on a plank garnished with mushrooms, fresh vegetables, and piped whipped potato.
Both new menus can be seen at the restaurant’s web site, storrowton.com.
Hope & Olive in Greenfield continues to offer an assortment of dining experiences to those who appreciate the restaurant’s sometimes-quirky culinary vision.
The restaurant is offering limited-seating, inside dining Thursday through Sunday evening, starting at 5 p.m.
Takeout dinner is available during the same hours, and Hope & Olive is offering cocktails and wine to go as well.
Sunday brunch is also available; it’s served 10 a.m.to 1 p.m. both inside and, weather permitting, outside.
For menu information go to the restaurant’s web site, hopeandolive.com. Call (413) 774-3150 for reservations or to place a to-go order.
Hugh Robert is a faculty member in Holyoke Community College’s hospitality and culinary arts program and has nearly 45 years of restaurant and educational experience. Robert can be reached online at OffTheMenuGuy@aol.com.