Local restaurants continue to offer affordable, pre-fixed Thanksgiving meals despite increased costs

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — In 2020, to-go Thanksgiving meals were extremely popular and long lines were seen outside restaurants due to gathering size restrictions.

“Last year was twice as busy as we thought was even possible,” explained Moku Roots co-owner Alexa Caskey. “So, this year we are prepared for it to be as busy, if not a little bit busier, than last year so we will be staffed appropriately this year.”

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In 2021, more family gatherings are expected at home, but it comes at a cost. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whole frozen turkey prices are up nearly 20% year on year, and other goods from milk to sugar to alcohol have increased too.

“We are seeing Thanksgiving is going to be a lot more expensive this year than it was last year. Everything from your turkey to your stuffing to your sweet potatoes — all of that.”

Tina Yamaki, Retail Merchants of Hawaii president

While there are grab-and-go options at restaurants, inventory is limited due to shipping delays.

“It’s not like before where they would make like 500 turkeys kind of thing. They’re limiting to how many they’re doing,” Yamaki added.

“People can pre-order four servings of a particular side and take that to-go, but we do need pre-orders for that,” Caskey explained. “So, if anybody wants that, they can just give us a call and let us know that they’re going to be picking that up the day of.”

Several restaurants are also offering pre-fixed Thanksgiving meals, but reservations are going fast.

“We anticipate to sell out this year just like we did last year,” said Michael Miller, director of operations for Tiki’s Grill and Bar. “The demand is high, and we still have some capacity issues going on.”

Restaurants on Oahu are still required to keep six feet of social distancing between tables indoors; proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 48 hours is also required to dine in.

“If you want those special times, if you want a sizable table, I highly recommend you make a reservation,” Miller said.

Even though prices are increasing for just about everything, Tiki’s said they are not raising their prices for Thanksgiving dinner. The dinner includes spiced butternut squash bisque, lemongrass cornbread, slow-roasted turkey, sausage apple chestnut dressing, Yukon gold potato gratin, Molokai potato purée, sage chardonnay pan gravy, fresh cranberry and bacon, macadamia nut, pineapple brussels sprouts, pumpkin cheesecake and live music.

“We know the costs are increasing and we kind of went over it and kind of said, ‘hey, this is what we think that we still should do, at least this year, at the $39 mark,’” Miller of Tiki’s said. “The live entertainment, the free valet — there is the ocean view, it’s going to be a wonderful, wonderful holiday season.”

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Moku Roots at Lahaina Gateway has a $22 vegan and gluten-free sampler plate. Their plate includes taro and chickpea cutlet, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, kabocha squash casserole with marshmallows, green bean casserole, yeast rolls or gluten-free cheddar biscuits, as well as stuffing with cranberry sauce or Thanksgiving salad. For dessert, slices of pumpkin pie will be available for $9.

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