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Updated: Wednesday, 21 Nov 2012, 6:59 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 21 Nov 2012, 5:03 PM EST
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Grocery store parking lots are packed as shoppers prepare for Thanksgiving Day dinner. But more restaurants are preparing for a busy day, too.
The National Restaurant Association said a survey found nearly 14 million Americans will dine out for Thanksgiving. Six in 10 cite the convenience factor. One-third said it beats doing the dishes.
Michael Marsico, Managing Partner at Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant, said Thanksgiving Day dinner is one of their biggest days.
"It started as a test at one of our original locations at Clark and Grand downtown Chicago and was a great success, and we found that people didn't want to cook at home," he said. "I think people are finding that our culture's changing. And I think people are enjoying the ability to go out and have that flexibility, which I guess is great for the economy and just business in general."
Cracker Barrel began offering Thanksgiving dinner decades ago. Last year, the company said it had its busiest day ever.
And holiday dining options aren't just limited to restaurants.
"A hospital is a great alternative to a restaurant," said Tom Thaman, Director of Food and Nutrition at Wishard Memorial Hospital. "We've got just a great menu offering. We've got an executive chef who does a great job and a wonderful culinary team.”
That's right: your local hospital cafeteria may also offer the traditional turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Thaman said Wishard’s food is cooked daily by an executive chef.
It’s a growing list of Thanksgiving options. But for Susan Warner, nothing beats dinner at home.
"For us, Thanksgiving is all about the cooking and the food,” she said as she left a local grocery store with a cart full of items.
If you do choose to go out, restaurants strongly suggest calling ahead.