‘Home for the holidays’ takes on new meaning during pandemic

The recipe hasn’t changed for Thanksgiving turkeys, but at Hoover’s Cooking, COVID-19 is changing the way holiday meals will be served up at this iconic East Austin restaurant.
“It’s completely new territory,” said restaurant owner Hoover Alexander.

With pre-ordered Thanksgiving meals down about 25% this year, Alexander said his restaurant team needed a new pandemic strategy. “It’s one of those deals where if you’re not adapting you are a dinosaur and you’re dead, right,” said Alexander.



Adapting will mean fewer party food trays and more pre-made individual Thanksgiving day meals. There will also be two curbside pick up locations. “I’m calling it, our response, COVID-safe dining out,” said Alexander.

For many families, adapting will mean scaling back holiday gatherings. “Usually we have family with us but this year might not be the year for that,” said Austin resident Patrick Carroll.

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Carroll and his wife also have a strategy on how to deal with the isolation caused by scaling back during a pandemic.

“Get out and walk as much as possible get out in the sun you still can interact with friends and try to be careful about distance and masks,” said Carroll.

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Mental health experts tell FOX7 since the outbreak started, a lot of people have been struggling with isolation. Technology can help people reconnect as virtual meetings can be adapted to holding virtual Thanksgiving meals. Other COVID coping holiday ideas from the CDC include:

  • Eat small outdoor meals
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use
  • Open windows if indoors
  • Restrict access to food prep areas
  • Have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils

Adapting to the change may be difficult but Alexander said he’s determined to make it work. "First of all every day is Thanksgiving for me, I truly wake up every morning grateful hopeful prayerful I’m here,  I’m still swinging it will be more special yes I’m going to be absolutely thankful to be in the game,” he said.

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The CDC offers the following advice for coping with COVID-19 during the holiday season:


  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils
  • Wear a mask, and safely store your mask while eating and drinking
  • Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils


  • Have a small outdoor meal with family and friends who live in your community
  • Limit the number of guests
  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use
  • If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows
  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas
  • Have guests bring their own food and drink
  • If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils


  • Shop online sales the day after Thanksgiving and days leading up to the winter holidays
  • Use contactless services for purchased items, like curbside pick-up
  • Shop in open-air markets staying 6 feet away from others