Before dawn Thursday, with the White River flowing lazily by, the lights will come on and the ovens will be set at 350 in anticipation of the arrival of about 900 guests for Thanksgiving at Gaston's Restaurant. Accommodating 900 guests will require 620 pounds of semi boneless turkey, 60 pumpkin pies, along with 1,300 pieces of other deserts and 750 pounds of mashed potatoes, with 40 gallons of turkey gravy just for starters.
Until last year, the restaurant generally served about 400 guests. But last year, that number grew to a record 700. Gaston's President and Owner, Clint Gaston, says immediately after Thanksgiving 2016, he and Chef Rick Gollinger began working on improving the experience.
Gaston says it will take a staff of about 40 to pull off the special day, many of whom have already been working on the preparations.
All that preparation will become 60 gallons of bread dressing and 60 gallons of cornbread dressing.
While Chef Gollinger believes the traditional Thanksgiving style food doesn't need too much of an improvement, the menu will also include 340 pounds of New York strip loins, 160 pounds of boneless hams, and 160 pounds of fried catfish.
To go along with those main dishes, guests will dine on 1,500 biscuits, 42 gallons of green bean casserole and 45 pounds of cranberry relish. And that's just the beginning.
Topping it all off will be Chef Gollinger's ice sculpture creation of a cornucopia.
With preparations underway several days before Thanksgiving, including marinating all the meats, Gaston says the turkey and hams will be roasted fresh in waves on Thursday beginning at 3:00 a.m. and continuing throughout the day to ensure freshness.
Thanksgiving at Gaston's has been a destination for many people for a number of years. Gaston attributes the growth to changing traditions.
For the staff who will be doing all the hard work, it's expected they will turn out the lights about 10:00 Thursday evening.
A portion of the staff will roll out Friday morning for a regular work day at the restaurant beginning at 5:30.
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