"My mother and I are our only family now," said Leigh of South Bend, "so we have started going out somewhere nice and enjoying ourselves."
"We no longer have any family close by and the cost of traveling keeps us apart on too many holidays," said Tooley of South Bend. "We are looking for a nice place to eat out. I just don't know where to start."
Tooley hopes it's not too late to make reservations.
Area diners will find a number of restaurants across the region open Thursday to accommodate diners like the Leighs and Tooleys.
Most restaurants are still taking reservations, and they recommend booking ahead to secure your table. Many will still try to accommodate last-minute diners, however.
Honkers, The Skillet and Tippecanoe Place in South Bend are among those locally owned restaurants that make a tradition of offering a special holiday buffet during limited Thanksgiving hours.
More than 1,100 reservations have been made at Tippecanoe Place, which has been open on Thanksgiving for more than 30 years. Even the Notre Dame and Pittsburgh hockey teams have booked a place at the table.
More than 60 employees will be working at the former Studebaker mansion Thursday.
"We have four levels to serve on and we'll use all four of them," says Sherri Huffer, Tippecanoe general manager. "And our holiday decorations will be finished."
Skip's Restaurant in New Buffalo on Friday had reported receiving more than 500 reservations already. Carriage House in South Bend is also taking reservations; numerous diner requests prompted the owners to open this Thanksgiving for the first time, with a plated holiday dinner.
You don't have to dine away from home to escape the cooking and cleanup that
Many restaurants are still accepting pre-orders for full dinners available for pickup. Martin's, Meijer, Kroger and other regional and national grocery stores are also offering meals for carry-out.
Martin's asks that customers place their orders 48 hours before the planned pickup; all Martin's stores will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
HoneyBaked Ham in Mishawaka recommends customers pre-order by Monday, although the store also will be open Tuesday and Wednesday.
Here are some of the Thanksgiving Day dining options, from bagels and doughnuts to full plated dinners and buffets, that are available on Thursday.
This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list. Post others you know about on Market Basket's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thebasket.
- American Pancake House, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1008 W. McKinley Ave.; 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 5758 Grape Road; Mishawaka; Roseland location closed.
- Amish Acres, 1600 W. Market St., Nappanee, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Buffet dinner. Seating is first-come, first-served.
- Carriage House, 24460 Adams Road, South Bend, 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Plated dinner, with three or four courses. Reservations strongly encouraged.
- Cracker Barrel, 110 North Pointe Blvd., Elkhart, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- East Bank Emporium, 121 S. Niles Ave., South Bend, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Einstein Bros. Bagels, 2019 South Bend Ave., South Bend, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Famous Dave's, 6402 Grape Road, Mishawaka, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Hob Nob Bistro, 206 E. Main St., Niles, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Honkers, 211 E. Day Road, Mishawaka, buffet from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., reservations recommended. South Bend location, 3939 S. Michigan St., will offer menu service or plated turkey dinner from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., reservations recommended.
- Krispy Kreme, 5615 N. Main St., Mishawaka, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Macri's Italian Kitchen, 315 W. Ireland Road., South Bend, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Panera Bread, 4310 N. Main St., Mishawaka, 6 a.m. to noon.
- Ruth's Chris Steak House, 902 E. University Ave., Mishawaka, 1 to 6 p.m.
- Skip's Restaurant, 16710 Red Arrow Highway, New Buffalo, noon to 5 p.m. Thanksgiving buffet only. Reservations are required.
- The Skillet, 2212 McKinley Ave., South Bend, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Reservations are recommended.
- Tippecanoe Place, South Bend, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thanksgiving Day buffet.
Heidi Prescott's Market Basket column discusses retail and restaurant news. When she's not shopping, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-235-6070. You can also talk retail at Facebook.com/thebasket and at Twitter.com/marketbasket.