From High End Dining To Fast Food Drive Thrus, Restaurants Are Touting Family Meals

Galatoire’s in New Orleans is among the restaurants offering family meals during stay home orders. … [+]


We didn’t feel like cooking this Easter. With Michigan under a stay home order, and grocery stores running low on some items, there was no certainty that I could find everything we always serve at our sumptuous family brunch.

So, after I saw a promotion from Knight’s Kitchen on Facebook, I decided to order an Easter dinner.

Knight’s Kitchen is an off shoot of the popular Knight’s Steakhouse restaurants in Ann Arbor that are often packed with townies and parents of University of Michigan students.

The meal was a steal. For $18, we got baked ham, scalloped potatoes, and glazed carrots. The food went in the oven about 45 minutes before dinner, and it plated up beautifully. I also added two pieces of Key Lime Pie for dessert.

A lot of Ann Arborites made the same decision, because Knight’s Easter dinner sold out quickly. And, there was so much left over that we were able to stretch it over two more days.

Now, restaurants all over the country, from those run by famous chefs to fast food outlets, are promoting similar family meals in an effort to stay afloat amid COVID-19.

Prices range from $10 to $100 or more, depending on who’s doing to cooking. The deals generally include enough food for at least two people, and often four.

Sometimes, the food comes ready to eat. Other options are meal kits that provide ingredients that people can prepare in their homes.

According to Restaurant Business, a trade publication that covers the restaurant industry, demand for family meals has swelled as people are stuck at home. They’re losing steam when it comes to cooking ideas, and they’ve gotten bored with pizza.

One of the highest profile names to try this approach is Fat Rice in Chicago. Recently, the New York Times reported that Fat Rice had permanently closed its well-regarded restaurant, which served imaginative Asian fusion cuisine.

Instead, Fat Rice reopened last week as Super Fat Rice Mart. It is advertising meal kits for $99.99 that include the ingredients to prepare meals for two adults. It’s also selling groceries.

Fat Rice has plenty of company in Chicago, where a number of restaurants have gotten into the big meals game. In March, Lettuce Entertain You, one of the city’s most prominent restaurant groups, launched Lettuce Take Care Of You.

Several of the restaurants in the group have been offering meals that feed multiple people, and there are also cocktail programs, too.

In Ann Arbor, Zingerman’s Deli has been peddling At Home meals and taking part in ZingShare, a weekly $95 box that contains ingredients from nine different Zingerman’s businesses.

The ingredients can be used individually, or combined to make meals.

One recent box included a steak and stilton pie, a baguette, a mini Brie, rice, cookies, cashew brittle and a jug of cold brew.

In New Orleans, a number of well-known names have been offering family meals, including Dooky Chase’s, Galatoire’s, Toup’s Meatery, and Willa Jean.

Indeed, think of a city, and you can find restaurants that are taking part in the trend.

At the other end of the price scale, fast food and fast casual chains have jumped to promote their family meal deals, something in which they have always specialized.

There are offers from chicken giants KFC, Chik-fil-A and Popeyes, as well as sit down places like Chili’s and Red Lobster. You can see a list of 10 here.

One issue that diners face, however, is uncertainty.

In researching this story, I found that some of the offers available last month had already disappeared.

Some places are taking a break, while restaurants that originally decided to close when stay at home orders were implemented have since re-opened with limited menus.

As we found with the Knight’s Easter dinner, some of these offers sell out fast. We didn’t act quickly enough last weekend to take advantage of Knight’s barbecue dinner.

So, before you plan on your favorite place providing your family dinner, it’s best to check their social media or Web page to see that they’re open. You’ll want to check out the menu, and also find the deadline when you’ll need to place an order.

Follow @mickimaynard on Twitter

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