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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

Holiday Stress? Try Turkey Dinner To Go

Dozens of restaurants and hotels offer turkey dinners to go - with a local twist. Panya Restaurant's (above) includes mochi rice, and Kahai Street Kitchen has Portuguese sausage stuffing | Jo McGarry photo

Dozens of restaurants and hotels offer turkey dinners to go – with a local twist. Panya Restaurant’s (above) includes mochi rice, and Kahai Street Kitchen has Portuguese sausage stuffing | Jo McGarry photo

Once you’ve brought the leftover Halloween candy to the office and disposed of the pumpkin seeds you meant to oven-dry but didn’t, it’s time to start getting out the turkey baster and the Christmas decorations.

While it does seem that the annual eating festivities come around more quickly each year, they always are anticipated with enthusiasm and welcomed with joy. The busier we are, the more this time of year seems important. I am already planning our Thanksgiving dinner menu and look forward to enjoying some time with my dad, who is arriving from Scotland for the holidays.

But if you’re already stressing out at the thought of food shopping and turkey brining, there are dozens of fabulous alternatives to the stress of a day in the kitchen – and most of them come with side dishes and are ready for pickup Thanksgiving Day.

A newcomer to the turkey-to-go scene is Kahai Street Kitchen. I’ve been a longtime fan of the excellent dishes created by the humble duo of Nao Iwata and David Yamamoto, and only can imagine how fabulous their Thanksgiving meal will be. With Portuguese sausage stuffing, homemade clam chowder and toasted garlic mashed potatoes, the hot dinners cost $135 (10- to 12-pound turkey), with pickup times staggered throughout the morning.

If you’re trying a turkey-to-go for the first time, give Kahai Street Kitchen a try. You can reserve a turkey by emailing ksk@kahaistkitchen.com.

Speaking of restaurants, I had to cancel a dinner reservation last Friday with only an hour’s notice. It’s not something that happens often, but life sometimes gets in the way of a great dinner at a good restaurant. The hostess was delighted that I’d called. Not that she didn’t want our party for dinner (one would hope), but she was now able to free up a table, seat a walk-in party of four and proceed to help the restaurant make money.

It was a timely reminder for me that, as the holidays approach, calling a restaurant to cancel your reservation is one of the best ways to show your appreciation for the services they provide.

But I’m betting that most people don’t. In fact, as the holidays approach, a common plan for those charged with booking large parties and annual gatherings is to book more than one restaurant at a time. The thinking is that having as many early options as possible for an office group or family gathering is good – and once everyone decides on one restaurant, there’s already a confirmed reservation.

The net result? Annually, it adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Many restaurants on the Mainland charge a non-refundable reservation fee and take a credit card number at the time of booking to avoid the situation. If you’re not willing to give your credit card number to reserve a table, then you’re obviously not serious about turning up. Now some Hawaii restaurants are adopting the policy, too, with good reason.

“We appreciate it so much when people call to cancel,” says Ruth’s Chris Steak House general manager Don Assam. “It really helps restaurants manage the flow of the restaurant.”

This holiday season is the first one in years where our food and beverage industry might actually see a light at the end of the economic tunnel of darkness they have been traveling through. Let’s help them succeed. If you can’t make your dinner reservation, please call to cancel, especially during the holidays.

Happy eating!

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