Gifts are not exchanged. It lacks a slot in the ‘Special Occasions’ section at the card store. There is no official name. But Thanksgiving Eve celebrations rival that of most holidays.
“Our revenues typically rise anywhere from 60 to 100 percent versus a regular Wednesday night across our fifteen Bar Louie locations,” confirms Scott Ward, vice president of operations for Restaurants-America in Glenview, Illinois, which manages the popular late-night chain. He adds that even at his firm’s more traditional dining restaurants, receipts jump 25 to 40 percent over the typical Wednesday night.
But Ward is quick to note the annual spike should not be confused with an emerging lifestyle trend. “It’s nothing new. Most offices close early. It’s the start of a four-day weekend. It’s always been a big deal, especially for bars and clubs.”
“Definitely in New York City on Thanksgiving Eve if you aren’t trying to get out of the city, you are trying to get into it,” says Ariana Gordon, president of JoonBug.com Productions, a marketing and promotions firm. “Friends are coming home from college or wherever they live now. Thanksgiving Eve is the one night everyone is around and can get together to meet and hang out. It’s one part reunion, one part holiday celebration, and one part I-have-tomorrow-off-and-don’t-have-to-be-anywhere-until-tomorrow-afternoon.”
The celebration is not just an urban thing. Anheuser-Busch has seen its total wholesalers’ beer sales to bars, nightclubs and restaurants jump significantly over those of the prior Wednesday night, as people kick off their festivities with a cold one, according to Mike Owens, the company’s vice president of sales & marketing.
Dialing for dinner
While Thanksgiving Eve is celebrated by those not busy preparing for the big turkey dinner the following day, those who are have their own Wednesday night ritual—ordering in.
“With 15 people coming for Thanksgiving dinner the next day, the last thing I want to do is cook dinner,” says Pam Marsh, a real estate stager in Denver. “It’s hard enough keeping all the recipes straight for the big once-a-year food fest. Having to remember to get ingredients for the night before and get it made in between the stuffing and the baking… well that just isn’t going to happen. It’s not so much a tradition of ordering in but a necessity if we are going to eat at all,” says Marsh.
Marsh apparently is not the only one reaching for the phone. Tim McIntyre, vice president of communications for Domino’s Pizza, Inc. in Ann Arbor, Mich. says the company's sales increase an average of 50 percent on the night before Thanksgiving over a typical Wednesday night.
It’s the same story at Papa John’s. Only New Year’s Eve, the Super Bowl and Halloween generate more delivery orders than Thanksgiving Eve, according to Tish Muldoon, a spokesperson for Papa John’s International in Louisville, Ky.
While the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has long been tagged the busiest travel day of the year, and the day after owns the distinction of being the busiest shopping day of the year, Thanksgiving Eve offers no pause in the seasonal spending binge. Something bar and club owners, not to mention the pizza delivery guy, are certain to be giving thanks for this year.