UCF-area restaurants offer alternatives to Thanksgiving cooking
Video: BBQ restaurants serve Thanksgving specials. 4 Rivers and Bubbalous share some of their holiday items. Video by Arnold Godoy, Central Florida Future. Arnold Godoy, Central Florida Future
Whether you don't want to cook or can't for this year's Turkey Day, several UCF-area restaurants are offering Thanksgiving dinners to those who walk in their doors on or near the fourth Thursday in November.
With an array of options on their normal menus, many restaurants have opted to add an entirely different Thanksgiving menu. For the days leading up to and including Thanksgiving, hungry people in the UCF community can look to places including 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant and Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Que for turkey-day options.
Kendall Denmark, manager of the Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Que on Challenger Parkway, said that it has seen a huge demand for its smoked turkey around Thanksgiving.
For the holiday, Bubbalou's will be offering smoked turkey and smoked ham, as well as complete meals. The website states that its meals, which feed eight to 10 people, come with the option of turkey or ham, plus four quarts of sides, 10 corn muffins and a whole pie. This spread adds up to $89.99 for the turkey or $99.99 for the ham option.
"Usually we do anywhere from 60 to 100 turkeys and meals," Denmark said.
Also known for its barbecue meals, 4 Rivers Smokehouse is offering Thanksgiving meals for pick up on Nov. 25 or Nov. 26, but they need to be ordered by Saturday.
On its website, 4 Rivers asks customers to let 4 Rivers be a part of the holiday meal with its various options. Offering beef brisket, smoked turkey, fixins packages, any of its à la carte sides and a COOP pie, 4 Rivers can provide food for small and large families alike.
The beef brisket, which serves approximately 20 people, comes in at $99.99 and the smoked turkey option, which serves approximately 14 people, costs $64.99.
For a smaller crowd around the table, the fixins package costs $49.99 and serves about four to six people. It includes one quart of mashed potatoes, classic gravy, cornbread stuffing, southern green beans, sweet potato casserole and one pint of cranberry chutney.
There are numerous sides to choose from and three different 9-inch COOP pies — an apple pie, a pumpkin pie and a Texas bourbon pecan pie — on the menu.
4 Rivers will be closed on Thanksgiving.
"It's a day for family, but we do want to make sure everyone is set up for their meals," said 4 Rivers manager Lauren Langford.
Out of all the options available to ravenous families in the UCF area, Chad Blankenship, manager of Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Waterford Lakes, is confident that people will choose Cooper's Hawk for their Thanksgiving meal needs.
Blankenship said that people love Cooper's Hawk as it is, even before the additional Thanksgiving options. Plus, Blankenship added that customers love the fact that the kitchen is a scratch kitchen.
Prep staff enter Cooper's Hawk at 8 a.m., three hours before the doors open, to prepare guacamole, pico de gallo, dressings, sauces and mashed potatoes.
Having opened last April, the restaurant has yet to experience its first Thanksgiving rush.
However, from his experience at other locations, Blankenship said that he expects the restaurant's Thanksgiving turnout to be much larger than an average day.
"A lot of people don't want to cook, they don't want to deal with the cleanup," Blankenship said of what draws people to restaurants on Thanksgiving.
He is hoping Cooper's Hawk will draw these people in with their Thanksgiving options, as well as catering and the fact that they will be open on Thanksgiving day.
According to its website, Cooper's Hawk's regular full menu will be offered, plus family-style traditional Thanksgiving fare, which costs $27.99 for adults and $9.99 for children 12 and under.
Whether it's barbecue or a traditional turkey meal, families and students alike can turn to local restaurants for Thanksgiving to enjoy the holiday without having to worry about the mess after.