FORT WORTH, Texas —
As the phone rang minute after minute, Heaven’s Gate Restaurant owner Barbie Stanislawski rushed to answer as she handled multiple tasks at once.
"It’s been very busy,” Stanislawski, known as “Mrs. Barbie,” said. “I think this is gonna be the biggest and the best year."
Heaven’s Gate Restaurant is nearly booked for its Thanksgiving buffet lunch and dinner. Takeout orders keep pouring in.
"This year we really booked up,” Stanislawski said. “Usually we have room for walk-ins and all that, and I don’t think that’s gonna work this year.”
As grocery costs remain historically high due to inflation, the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving meal is up. Consumer experts estimate dining out for Thanksgiving may be cheaper than cooking a feast at home this year.
At Stanislawski’s restaurant, it’s all-you-can-eat for $19.99.
"It’s a trying time for everybody,” Stanislawski said.
Demand for her low-cost buffet is so high, she’s already booking into Christmas, and she’s not the only restaurant that has booked quickly ahead of Thanksgiving.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy noticed many of the restaurants offering a Thanksgiving meal in Fort Worth are already fully booked.
"I was watching all month to see if people were gonna book reservations or worried about turkey costs, and all of a sudden, last weekend it was like, ‘kaboom!’ they all showed up and booked all the restaurants,” Kennedy said.
A buffet lunch at Heaven’s Gate was worth it for customers like Vince Martinez.
“Grocery shopping, it’s expensive, and then the crowds, long lines... when you can easily just come here and order what you need and have a traditional Thanksgiving lunch,” Martinez said.
Another customer, Saradolle Dominguez, told WFAA she spends $150 during an average grocery trip. She anticipated spending close to $400 for a Thanksgiving meal, so she opted for takeout from Heaven’s Gate instead.
Dominguez appreciates the restaurant’s low cost for made-from-scratch entrees.
Despite record-high inflation this year, Stanislawski didn’t raise her prices this year.
"I feel like God knows I’m a servant to him,” Stanislawski said. “I also want to serve and make folks happy... and families.”
That’s what it’s all about.