The trend toward eating out on holidays has not escaped Cape Girardeau restaurant owners.
Several, including Ryan's and Denny's Diner, opened their doors Thursday to offer an alternative solution to the growing number of area residents rebelling against Thanksgiving meal-time traditions.
By 12 p.m., Ryan's was bustling with activity, with a long line of customers backed-up to the front doors.
"It's such a hassle to try to prepare all the food when both parents work," said Marble Hill resident Jeanne Hoffman, who joined her family at Ryan's for lunch.
"This is easier, and my family thought it was a great idea. We may make this an annual tradition," Hoffman said.
The scene at Denny's was less hectic, but the restaurant attracted a large crowd as well. Some, like the Craig family, have been eating out on Thanksgiving for years.
"We have our regular Thanksgiving meal a week early," said Linda Craig Simpson of Anna, Ill. "Then the great-grandparents, grandparents and kids all meet in Cape Girardeau to eat out on Thanksgiving Day."
She said half the family lives in Anna, the other half in Fredericktown, Mo., and they love meeting in the middle, having a meal in a local restaurant and then shopping at whatever stores are open.
"It's become quite a tradition," Simpson said. "We always enjoy it."