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Need To Grab A Meal On Thanksgiving? These Restaurants Will Be Open

With Thanksgiving around the corner, many of us are preparing to celebrate the holiday season. From deciding what outfit to wear to which fall seasonal Starbucks drink we want to try, Thanksgiving really has us putting on our thinking caps to create the best holiday experience with our loved ones. But while planning for certain aspects of Thanksgiving can be lighthearted and carefree, arguably the most stressful part in planning Thanksgiving is the food.

With food being one of the more important factors in celebrating Thanksgiving, many contemplate if they should follow suit and celebrate traditionally — by cooking their own food — or eating out with their family and friends. 

I will argue that Thanksgiving doesn’t always need turkey, and there are numerous non-traditional ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. One way includes eating out. Despite many local restaurants being closed on the special holiday, there are numerous chain restaurants open, including Applebee’s and Sonic. Despite Ratatouille‘s theme and  signature quote — Anyone Can Cook — not everyone may want to, especially on Thanksgiving.Thanksgiving is also a holiday of inclusivity, and everyone should be given the opportunity to celebrate — including out-of-state and international students.   

Ultimately, you can still eat well despite not cooking, whether that’s alongside your family and friends or solo, if you’re stuck on campus or don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in your culture but need a meal for the night. So whether you want to grab a dessert that is not sweet potato pie or want to savor a meal that doesn’t contain turkey, here are some chain restaurants that will be open on Thanksgiving Day.


Ditch the turkey and dish out some Big Macs! McDonald’s is one of the chain restaurants open on Thanksgiving Day. Instead of creating sweet potato pie from scratch, you can go pick up an apple pie to go at your nearest McDonald’s drive-thru.

Steak N’ Shake

Craving something sweet but not in the mood to eat homemade sweet potato pie? No worries! Steak N’ Shake is another chain restaurant that will be open on Thanksgiving and will serve seasonal shakes, including the Pumpkin Spice Oreo Milkshake.

Cracker Barrel

If you want to have a Thanksgiving feast without having to do the prepping and cooking, Cracker Barrel will be open on Thanksgiving Day. This year, Cracker Barrel is making sure that you spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family by providing Heat n’ Serve options, a complete Thanksgiving meal for any form of gathering. Additionally, the Heat n’ Serve feast can be picked up before the holiday and stored in the refrigerator. 

Red Lobster

Another viable dining option if you get tired of eating turkey is Red Lobster. All Red Lobster locations will be open on Thanksgiving Day, offering both dine-in and to-go services. Red Lobster being open during this holiday is a special opportunity to spice your plate with some Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

Dunkin’ Donuts

America runs on Dunkin’ — including on holidays.If you haven’t tried Dunkin’s seasonal drinks and donuts yet, you can grab one on Thanksgiving Day! With most Dunkin’ Donuts locations expected to be open during the holidays, feel free to try their Pumpkin Cake Donut or Pumpkin Spice Signature Latte.

Waffle House

Open 24 hours, seven days a week, Waffle House is another restaurant you can go to. Whether for a light breakfast before the big feast or an evening meal to save some of your Thanksgiving food for the following day, a plate of waffles, eggs, and bacon will never disappoint.

Buffalo Wild Wings

With select locations being open during Thanksgiving, Buffalo Wild Wings is another restaurant you can go to celebrate with your family and friends. With endless boneless wings, fries, and the bar to cheer on your favorite NFL team, Buffalo Wild Wings provides a break from traditional Thanksgiving traditions. 


You and your family are already making a dinner feast — why should you have to make breakfast too? With IHOP also being open during Thanksgiving Day, stop by and try the Pumpkin Spice Pancake Combo off their seasonal menu.


Despite already releasing their winter seasonal drinks, Starbucks being open on Thanksgiving Day is a perfect excuse to purchase a Pumpkin Spice Latte and/or one of their other seasonal fall treats.

Seasons 52

Being open 364 days of the year (it is closed on Christmas Day), Seasons 52 is another restaurant your family and friends can eat at during Thanksgiving. Additionally, due to  Thanksgiving, Season 52 provides a seasonal menu including brioche and sage stuffing, as well as mashed butternut squash.


Similar to Starbucks, Wendy’s being open during Thanksgiving is another perfect excuse to snag their seasonal Pumpkin Spice Frosty before it is replaced by their seasonal Peppermint Frosty.

Bob Evans

Avoid extra cooking this upcoming holiday season by stopping by Bob Evans to try their seasonal fall menu items, including the Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich.

Burger King

You can have Thanksgiving any way you like with Burger King being open during the holiday. From Whoppers to chicken sandwiches, the options are endless.

Domino’s Pizza

Pizza is a form of pie, after all. Domino’s Pizza is another restaurant you can order from on Thanksgiving. From the comfort of your own home, you can have hot n’ ready pizza delivered to you in minutes.


Only having to thaw, heat, and serve, Popeyes is offering Cajun Style Turkeys you can enjoy in PJs. This year, select Popeyes will be open for pick-up or contactless delivery services to try this seasonal traditional dish with a twist.

Ruby Tuesday

Lastly, Ruby Tuesday will be open on Thanksgiving Day. With the holiday season around the corner, Ruby Tuesday is currently having a holiday special, which includes a six-ounce ribeye, a half-rack of baby back ribs, and crispy shrimp served with french fries all for $19.99. This special is available Sundays to Fridays and is available dine-in or online with the code TRIO22.

Eliana Jacobs is a National Contributing Writer for Her Campus. Born and raised in Southwest Florida, Eliana writes articles about lifestyle, Her 20s, and career-related goals/activities. Before becoming a national writer, Eliana wrote under the UCF Her Campus Chapter,where she wrote about health and wellness. Additionally, she has a passion for social justice, advocacy, and race-related news. Beyond Her Campus, Eliana also writes flash fiction and poetry for the nation’s largest student-run organization, Strike Magazine. Some of her most recent publications include Life In Plastic: It’s “Fantastic”. Eliana also was awarded multiple honorable mentions for her writing during her undergraduate career in her school’s Tutors’ Choice Flash Fiction Contest. Lastly, she recently graduated from the University of Central Florida, earning a dual degree in Sociology and Interdisciplinary Studies on a Pre-Medical Track. Ultimately, Eliana aspires to pursue an MD/MPH to specialize in Pediatric Endocrinology while intersecting her passion for public health through medical research, poetry, and journalism. In her free time, Eliana enjoys shopping, working out, and traveling. Lastly, Eliana loves exploring local cuisines and documenting restaurants she tried (Orlando and beyond) on her food Instagram.