Restaurants not empty on Thanksgiving

While the home-cooked feast is the signature of the Thanksgiving Day celebration, restaurants are staking a larger and larger claim on what was once unchallenged territory.

The City is known globally for its fine dining, with many of the best chefs flocking to the area for its combination of great wines, sophisticated clientele and access to the freshest produce and meats.

“It’s typically our busiest day of the year,” said Robert Bickham, the general manager at Garibaldi’s, a restaurant in the Laurel Heights neighborhood.

He said Garibaldi’s doesn’t typically see large parties but more often groups of two to four people coming together for a meal.

“I think those people just don’t want to cook,” Bickham said.

What can undoubtedly drive up restaurant bookings is travelers away from home, and tourism is “definitely up from last year,” San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau spokeswoman Angela Jackson said.

That is good news for local restaurants that are open on Thanksgiving, which is becoming more common, said Kevin Westlye, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

“I think therewas a time 20 years ago where most restaurants closed for Thanksgiving,” he said. “I think that’s gradually shifted to where most are open,”

Westlye estimated that more than half of the association’s 800 member restaurants are open.

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