As the restaurant industry continues its by-starts-and-fits recovery from the past several years, one bright spot in that process has been the return of fun-filled, holiday-themed celebrations. Despite lingering staffing challenges and operating constraints, a growing number of area hospitality establishments are planning and promoting special events to celebrate the Christmas season ahead.
Max’s Tavern in Springfield, for example, is taking reservations for its 12th annual Max Teddy Bear Brunch, which will be held on Dec. 4.
A celebration of the season of giving, the Teddy Bear Brunch will have two seatings, one at 10 a.m. and a second at noon. In addition to a selection of brunch favorites, the event’s gastronomic agenda will feature a cupcake bar, a popcorn bar, and Max’s special candy buffet. Games, craft projects, face painting, and dancing to a kids’ DJ will all be part of the fun.
Guests should dress to impress, and those under 12 are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. Max’s Tavern will say “thank you” for the donation with a signature Max Bear.
Pricing for the event is $45 for adults and $40 for children 12 and younger; tax and gratuity are additional. Tickets can be ordered online at maxhospitality.myshopify.com/products/teddy-bear-brunch.
For further information contact AnnMarie Harding at Max’s Tavern at 413-244-4055 or email@example.com.
A favorite attraction for restaurant holiday events is a celebrity appearance by St. Nick himself. Events featuring breakfast with Santa are a popular option, and a venue or two can sometimes even persuade Mrs. Claus to accompany her “mister.”
The Table 3 Restaurant Group in Sturbridge will present Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 4.
The Jolly Old Elf will be making his appearance at Table 3′s function venue, The Barn at Wight Farm in Sturbridge.
There are to be seatings at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., with the price for adults $24.95 and for children under 12, $14.95.
Reservations can be made by calling 774-241-8450.
Champney’s Restaurant at the Deerfield Inn in Deerfield has brought back an ambitious special event schedule this year, and for the holiday season they’ve been able to book Santa and Mrs. Claus for a whole series of appearances.
On a number of evenings starting Dec. 4, the couple will table-hop during dinner from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Champney’s will be serving their regular and childrens menu; complimentary Mrs. Claus cookies will be included.
Reservations will be required to join these special get-togethers.
Call Champney’s at 413-774-5587 to hear more details or to book a table.
* The Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., has brought back its annual Beerfest.
Scheduled for Nov. 19 from 3 to 7 p.m., the Beerfest, which is taking place in the Rainmaker Expo Center, will feature more than 150 different beers, ciders, seltzers, and specialty cocktails. Those attending the Beerfest can also enjoy live music and games as well as savoring the food selections event organizers are making available for purchase.
Tickets for the Beerfest range in price from $20 to $30 and can be ordered online at ticketmaster.com. A ticket broker’s fee will be added to all ticket purchases.
Call 800-369-9663 for more information about this and other events at Foxwoods.
The Melha Shriners are partnering with the Clarion Hotel in West Springfield to host several Breakfast with Santa occasions.
Billed as family-focused the breakfasts feature, as special guests from the North Pole, Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Two seatings are planned for Nov. 26, one at 8 a.m. and a second at 9:30 a.m.
Additional sessions on Nov. 27 are being described as sensory-friendly, with low lighting, soft music, and more social distancing.
The breakfasts will be repeated on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4. Cost to attend is $10 for ages 13 and older and $6 for ages four through 12, with proceeds from the event benefiting the Melha Shriners and their charitable endeavors.
Tickets may be ordered online at melhashiners.org/breakfastwithsanta.
* Late last month On the Border restaurants introduced a slate of limited-time-only menu specialties.
These include three entree items – Honey-Chipotle Salmon, a Steak & Bacon-wrapped Shrimp combination plate, and Barbacoa Enchilada, the tortilla roll-ups filled with barbecued beef and cheddar cheese.
Also available through December is a Double-Stacked Club Quesadilla that’s layered with grilled spiced chicken, three cheeses, bacon and guacamole. The quesadilla comes with toppers that include a creamy red sauce, sour cream and pickled jalapeno peppers.
Oct. 27, 2022 was the brand’s 40th anniversary, so two items have been introduced to help celebrate the occasion. There’s a Birthday Cake dessert of tres leches cake covered with Mexican chocolate and confetti sprinkles. The bar is also compounding Birthday ‘Ritas. which are made by blending frozen Margarita mix with birthday cake and serving the result in a glass rimmed with confetti sprinkles.
There is an On the Border location at Border Way off Riverdale Street in West Springfield.
* Teresa’s Restaurant in Ware is presenting a dinner show that’s being promoted as “The Eagles Experience.” Planned for Nov. 26 starting at 5 p.m., the evening begins with a cocktail hour followed by an Italian-American feast served family style.
The tribute show performance itself begins at 7:30 p.m.
Call Teresa’s at 413-967-7601 for more information about the dinner and show. Reservations can be made using the same telephone number.
* Chicago-based McDonald’s Corp. is once again using its cult-favorite McRib sandwich as a marketing tool, this time sending the product out on what the burger chain is labeling a “2022 Farewell Tour.”
Whether this time around does indeed represent the pork patty sandwich’s last hurrah is anyone’s guess. McDonald’s says the McRib will be available at participating restaurants only until Nov. 20.
* Most of the to-go Thanksgiving holiday feasts area restaurant are promoting rely on the same reheat-and-eat approach, but Mezze Bistro + Bar in Williamstown is adding a few touches to its turkey takeout program that other restaurants might want to explore.
First of all, their holiday dinner take-home packages include a nod to modern entertaining practices in the form of Grazing Platters. A Cheese Platter option is built around three cheese varieties and includes roasted nuts, fig jam, and French bread , while a Charcuterie Platter features three meats paired along with seasonal jam, olives, and whole grain mustard. Both serve 10 to 12.
Their already-roasted-turkey package also quite thoughtfully includes a pint of cooking juices for use when reheating the bird.
Mezze Bistro + Bar answers at 413-458-0123.
* IHOP Restaurants are featuring three holiday-season menu additions.
Gingersnap Thick ‘N Fluffy French Toast is a variation on the chain’s recently introduced “New French Toast.” The holiday styling features two thick French toast slices topped with spiced cinnamon apples, gingersnap cookie crumbles, red currants, and a dusting of powdered sugar.
A Gingersnap Milkshake is blended from gingersnap syrup, gingersnap cookies, and vanilla ice cream. A garnish of whipped topping, gingersnap crumbles, and currants completes the fountain treat.
Gingersnap Hot Chocolate is similar in design and flavor profile.
All three items are promoted as being available through December.
There are IHOP locations in the Five Town Plaza in Sixteen Acres and on Riverdale Street in West Springfield.
* The Hardwick Vineyard & Winery in Hardwick will hold its annual Thanksgiving Open Barn Harvest Festival on Nov. 19 and 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
Free to attend, the Open Barn Festival offers the chance to browse and shop a selection of local food and giftware vendors.
For more information contact the Hardwick Vineyard & Winery at 413-967-7763.
Hugh Robert is a faculty member in Holyoke Community College’s hospitality and culinary arts program and has more than 45 years of restaurant and educational experience. Robert can be reached on-line at OffTheMenuGuy@aol.com.