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Posted November 26, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Holiday on the clock

Area businesses stay open on Thanksgiving to serve public

by M.K. Luther-mkluther@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- While most of the city paused to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, some businesses stayed open to get a jump on holiday sales and offer a much-needed, convenient pit stop for customers.

Many retail clerks and restaurant staff become the unwitting, unsung heroes of Thanksgiving -- manning the shop, preparing for the onslaught of Black Friday shoppers and providing a place for last-minute shopping or a meal for those who don't want to cook.

The Village Square Restaurant has been open on Thanksgiving Day the past five years, said Dan Kalber, executive chef. The restaurant seats tables from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. on the holiday, and serves as late as 5 p.m.

Staying open gives customers an alternative place to get a holiday meal and a reprieve from dishwashing duty, Kalber said.

"A lot of people don't like turkey, so we do a full dinner menu, and a special turkey dish," Kalber said. "And a lot of people don't like doing dishes."

The restaurant staff has found a way to make the most of the day, Kalber said. It dines on a special meal after closing, inviting friends and family for a private party to enjoy one of the chef's creations.

"After we finish working, we have a great Thanksgiving meal," Kalber said. "It is kind of one of those weird tradition things."

Cook Richie Jacobus has grown accustomed to his field's lack of traditional time off.

"When you work in a restaurant, you don't get holidays," Jacobus said.

The Dollar General Store on the walking mall opened at 7 a.m. Thursday -- an hour early -- with a special advertised sale to bring customers in.

The majority of the sale items were sold out by mid-morning, said Assistant Manager Donnice Walker, so she expected a slower-than-average day after the rush subsided.

"Actually, I have been quite entertained today -- the phones have been ringing of the hook," Walker said.

She said only managers, not sales associates, were staffing the store, and working an early shift would allow her ample time to enjoy the holiday.

Working on a holiday can have its benefits, Walker said, including the chance to earn extra money.

"I do not mind it at all -- double pay," she said. " I actually volunteered to work today."

The Winchester Newstand on Piccadilly Street stays open all year to serve customers in the close-knit neighborhood, said owner Paul Whittemore.

"You gotta take care of the customers, you gotta take care of the people in the area," Whittemore said. "You gotta do it for these people."

The store only closes early on Thanksgiving -- at 3 p.m. -- and Christmas and Easter -- at 2 p.m. Whittemore said the advantages to being open for his customers far outweigh the personal pluses of being closed.

"I am a Korean (War) veteran," Whittemore said. "As long as I am not pushing up daisies, it doesn't bother me at all."

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