ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different this year for thousands of Tampa Bay area families.
However, there's at least one positive spin to this COVID-style holiday season; businesses say they are seeing a much-needed boost.
With more inexperienced cooks spending time away from family or smaller families gathering this year, restaurants are stepping up to provide traditional Thanksgiving meals for this very untraditional holiday.
At 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House in St. Petersburg, owner Steve Westphal is delighted. This Thanksgiving, his restaurant will serve as a gathering spot for families who are unable to join loved ones this year. They're serving up a three-course Thanksgiving meal.
"We're nearly booked, and we are very excited," Westphal added.
Across the bay, Andrea Gonzmart at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City is planning to cater to hundreds of families with a to-go Thanksgiving meal enhanced by a Spanish twist. They're also offering a dine-in Thanksgiving meal option alongside their regular menu.
"It has truly been a roller coaster with COVID, but we have figured out a way around it, and we really noticed that people are taking advantage of the to-go options this year. We have more than quadrupled orders," Gonzmart added.
Ted Skiaditos at Craft Kafe in St. Petersburg can't help but fight back the tears thinking about how many families have ordered to-go pies from his bakery this Thanksgiving.
"I get a little emotional sometimes, but I can't explain the gratefulness I have for the community," he said.
For restaurants who are fighting to get by this holiday, they'll have even more to be grateful for.
"For all the guests who kept us going through this last turbulent year, and we're still here, and we're gonna be here, and we want to thank them all from the bottom of our hearts," Westphal elaborated.
Several dozen restaurants across Tampa Bay are offering traditional Thanksgiving meals for dine in or to go. Many do require reservations.
Here are a few taking part:
The Columbia (Tampa, Clearwater): While to go feasts for 10 need to be ordered in advance, the restaurant is open for dine in, and you can get their regular and individual Thanksgiving meal to go on Thanksgiving day.
Deviled Pig (Tampa): The Tampa smokehouse is serving smoked turkeys and gravy. They're also serving sides. The last day to order is November 23. Pickup is November 25.
Dr. BBQ (St. Pete): The St. Pete BBQ restaurant is selling smoked turkeys and sides that serve 10 people. They're also offering brisket and ham. Orders can be placed through the restaurant's website and picked up on November 25 or 26.
Haven (Tampa): You can order curbside pickup at this Tampa restaurant, and there are several packages to choose from, serving around four people for each package. Orders can be made by calling the restaurant and picked up on November 25.
The Library (St. Pete): The restaurant is selling a multi-course meal for four to six people for $180. Guests should call the restaurant to reserve their meal.
Whiskey Cake (Tampa): The Tampa International Plaza restaurant has an $85 Thanksgiving Kit that serves four to six people. Customers can order the kit either by phone, email, social media or at the restaurant. The dinner kits can be picked up anytime between November 18 and November 25.
400 Beach Seafood and Tap House (St. Petersburg): The three-course dine-in Thanksgiving meal costs $39.95 per person or $17.95 for a children's portion for those under 12. Diners can choose turkey, short rib, pork chop or grouper as their entree.
Bizou Brasserie (Tampa): The restaurant will serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal from 3 to 8 p.m.
Casis (St. Pete): The restaurant is offering a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in addition to their regular full menu. Reservations are required.
Castile (St. Pete Beach): The restaurant inside Hotel Zamora will have a four course Thanksgiving meal for $65 per person or a lighter plate for $26 per person. They're open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Sea Porch Cafe (St. Pete Beach): The restaurant inside the Don CeSar will be serving up a Thanksgiving meal.
Eddie V's Prime Seafood (Tampa): The restaurant will serve a classic Thanksgiving meal in-house and for pickup.
Hew Parlor & Chophouse (Dunedin): The restaurant, inside the Fenway Hotel, will have a three-course meal for Thanksgiving, but reservations are highly recommended.
Flor Fina (Tampa): The restaurant inside Ybor City's Hotel Haya will have a three-course $65 prix fixe meal.
Ocean Hai (Clearwater Beach): The restaurant inside the Wyndham Hotel will have a four-course Thanksgiving meal.
Parkshore Grill (St. Petersburg): The restaurant will be offering two additional menus for Thanksgiving. Reservations are required.
Rusty Pelican (Tampa): The restaurant requires a $25 deposit per person upfront for their classic Thanksgiving meal.
Craft Kafe (St. Petersburg): The St. Pete bakery will offer three types of gluten-free Thanksgiving pies: pumpkin ($20), pecan ($30) and apple crumb ($32). They must be picked up by Wednesday.
Beans and Barlour (St. Petersburg): While they won't be serving turkey, they will have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic ice cream to go.