Knoxville restaurants adapt to COVID-19 for Thanksgiving

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — This Thanksgiving has likely looked different than any other before. Many people had to make adjustments during the pandemic and that includes restaurants and their staff.

Bart Fricks, the Chief Operations Officer for The Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants, which includes Calhouns and Chesapeakes, says they’ve had to change some things but others stayed the same.

“Our restaurants were open as we have been for many, many years,” said Fricks.

A tradition that stayed alive this year, even though it isn’t quite the same.

“Mask wearing, social distancing, washing hands. Making sure we’re taking extra time to sanitize surfaces, things like that,” he said.

Those are some of the extra steps taken by the Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants to make sure staff and guests felt safe during the holiday. However, it’s not the only noticeable change.

“We made a decision about three to four weeks ago to cancel those buffets this year. They’re typically very successful and they draw crowds into a room and we just didn’t feel like this was the year to do that. And certainly, when things get back to normal, we’ll bring those practices back,” Fricks said.

The restaurant group has found ways to readjust, putting more emphasis, this Thanksgiving, on to-go meals.

“We did a lot of family packs feed five, feed 10. Turkey packs. Calhouns smoked turkey, cornbread, potatoes and our homemade pumpkin cheesecake. Enough to feed five or 10. We had very brisk business with that,” he said.

Providing for the community – in turn, helped out their own team – in a time, when it could be needed most.

“When we had to shut down, a lot of our people are just now getting back on their feet. So, to be able to be in a busy time of the year, which is the holidays. Whether you’re doing to-go or whether people are choosing to dine-in, however you feel safe dining, knowing you’re there and we’re helping our own people earn their living,” Fricks said.

Fricks says having business is a win for the community and his teammates.

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