WACO, Texas — It is the eve of Thanksgiving and many are already prepping for their massive feasts tomorrow.

But tonight, many took the night off from cooking and enjoyed a family meal out.

“We’re expecting to see heavy volume on to-go’s especially,” Poppa Rollo’s General Manager Adriana Estrada said. “Even this morning we had a lot of families coming in to dine in from out of town, you know, from all over Texas.”

With many people getting ready for a full day of cooking, they looked elsewhere for food tonight, leaving it up to local restaurants to fill their appetites, whether in person or to go.

“Our to-go’s are just insane, like, I mean, this morning we were selling. We must have sold like 30 family trays this morning before eleven,” Jimmy Imeri of Baris said. “So we’ve been here all day just driving, trying to get the food out for everybody because I understand like nobody wants to cook.”

Some restaurants, while serving customers this evening, are also filling Thanksgiving day orders, that have taken multiple weeks to prepare.

“So what you’re seeing, the mad rush of people picking up orders today,” Brown House Café Owner Chad Trail said. “It’s a culmination of about two weeks of effort from our kitchen. Preparing these meals in the last last day and a half has been cooking all these pies.”

But after the COVID filled Thanksgiving of 2020, many restaurant owners and employees are happy to be back serving people for the holidays.

“I’m happy to, we are finally fully staffed and we’re happy to be providing jobs for our staff, you know, because a lot of them are mothers and have families and they’re able to, you know, make money for the holidays,” Estrada said. “So it feels great.”

And what is the staff thankful for this year?

“Thankful for family. I mean, family is the number one most important thing in this world. Not the money, not the car, not the houses,” Imeri said. “So I understand, like there’s a lot of families that can’t be together because they’re military or whatnot or they’ve lost loved ones. Just be thankful for the ones that are here.”