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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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 Feeding your family for the holidays: A Honker tradition

Feeding your family for the holidays: A Honker tradition

Thirteen-hundred pounds of turkey, 900 pounds of mashed potatoes and 85 gallons of gravy. All served up in one day.

For Rochester's Canadian Honker, Thanksgiving is the biggest day on the calendar. Between dine-in service, takeout meals and its increasingly-popular family-style takeout, the restaurant prepares more than 2,200 meals for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“It’s my favorite day to work," says General Manager Nick Powers. "The pressure's on — but at that same time, when you get done there's a feeling of achievement. There isn’t another day like it.”

Nick knows the Honker Thanksgiving tradition well. Like his brother Joe Jr. and sister Melissa, Nick grew up in the restaurant and has been working the holiday since as far back as he can recall. 

“I remember working as an eight-year-old, busing tables and things like that," says Nick. "It was what we did." 

"We’re pretty much a big family around here," adds Jamie Coppage, a server at the Honker. "You can feel the love being here. All of us are away from our own families and it doesn’t even feel like it."

This year's feast will include roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade stuffing, cranberries, dinner rolls and garlic toast — all topped off with a piece of pumpkin pie or, of course, the famous Bunny’s Coconut Cake.

“It’s always homemade," adds Nick. "It would be a lot easier for us to bring in pre-sliced turkey and instant mashed potatoes — but we literally make everything here."

Getting hungry reading this — but still want to enjoy your meal at home? The Honker offers a family-style takeout option that provides you all the food you need to take back home and share.

“We box everything up in disposable pans for you," says Nick. "You pick it up a half hour before you eat. You bring it home. You put it in your own dishes. You’re done.”

“For a lot of people, it’s that comfort factor of being at home and spending time with your family," adds Patrick Swayze, one of the restaurant's managers. "But you don’t have to spend that time in the kitchen. You can spend it with your family.”

Follow the Canadian Honker on Facebook.

Photography by Corrie Strommen

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