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Demand heats up for catered Thanksgiving meals

  • Oliver's Market Executive Chef Mark Kowalkowski carries out a freshly cooked turkey to place in the deli display case. (KENT PORTER/Press Democrat)

In the days before Thanksgiving, not everyone will cut up bread loaves for stuffing, brine a turkey or top a green bean casserole with onion rings.

Many Sonoma County residents are ordering fully prepared dinners from supermarkets and caterers who increasingly are offering foodie ingredients and brand-name birds.

The complete holiday dinner business is moving upscale, even as companies say demand keeps growing.

“We're elevating the service on everything,” said Teejay Lowe, CEO of G&G Supermarkets in Santa Rosa and Petaluma.

G&G has offered a complete Thanksgiving dinner for three decades. Its traditional dinner, featuring a 12 pound, oven roasted turkey, starts at $59.95.

But for the first time this year the company also will sell a “Sonoma County gourmet turkey dinner,” featuring a 12 pound Willie Bird free range turkey, Italian bread stuffing with fresh sage, a brandy marinated cranberry sauce, white truffle Yukon gold mashed potatoes, other side dishes and a Kozlowski Farms pumpkin pie. The price: $99.

And for those who like the idea of doing a little giving while they're getting, G&G's holiday dinners this year will raise money for the Council on Aging's Meals on Wheels program. The supermarket has teamed up with the council's Stagé gourmet food service to make some of its Thanksgiving side dishes.

Good estimates are hard to find on the number of people who don't cook their own Thanksgiving dinners.

The National Restaurant Association predicts that 30 million Americans will eat out or buy restaurant takeout for the holiday. Thanksgiving restaurant dining has held steady in recent years, but the takeout business likely has increased, said spokeswoman Annika Stensson.

Supermarkets say they see growth in the sale of complete holiday dinners, as well as for separate precooked turkeys and ready-to-heat side dishes.

“It's incredible. We sell more dinners every year,” said Roxanne Abruzzo-Backman, food service coordinator for Cotati-based Oliver's Markets. “We increase at least 10 to 15 percent every year.”

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