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A handful of restaurants are open to serve you on Christmas

POSTED: December 16, 2009 10:00 p.m.

Not everyone has a bevy of family members around, serving up Christmas dinner.

But if you're part of the local population that would otherwise be cooking up brunch by yourself, there are a few restaurant options available to you on Dec. 25 - but just a few.

Some area singles — and families, too — have made a trek to Waffle House or Ihop an annual tradition.

Patti Staebell, manager at the Ihop on Jesse Jewell Parkway in Gainesville, said all Ihop locations are open on Christmas Day, but the hours may be different.

"Some are open and close early, some are open later in the day," said Staebell, who is a veteran of working on the holiday.

But, she said, she doesn't mind.

"It's busy because a lot of people can't find places to eat breakfast," she said of working on the holiday. "I don't mind it."

It's the same story at Waffle House, where cooks dish up a Christmas each year that can also be scattered, smothered or covered.

"We're packed because we're open all day Christmas, all day Christmas Eve," said Terrell McGahee, manager at the Waffle House off U.S. 129 in Gainesville. "We're going all day long."

But if you're looking for holiday fare that's slightly more upscale, the Holiday Inn Lanier Centre puts on a brunch spread that's top-quality, said food and beverage director Jim Tallent.

The spread includes chef-carved leg of lamb and roast beef, royal flounder with blue crab stuffing, honey-glazed ham, turkey with sage dressing and roast pork loin, along with smoked salmon, shrimp, fruit, cheese, salad and dessert.

"It's quite a spread. We've been doing it for a lot of years," said Tallent, who has worked at the Gainesville hotel for 11 years. "Slowly over the years we've developed a clientele that comes out."

The buffet is $21.95 for adults, $10.95 for ages 6 to 12, and children younger than 5 are free. Seatings are at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and reservations are required. Call 770-531-0907 for more information.

But then again, maybe a traditional Christmas ham or turkey isn't your style.

Gainesville restaurants China Wok and Chef Wang Chinese Restaurant open their doors on Christmas Day, too.

The crowds at Chef Wang on Pearl Nix Parkway aren't huge, said employee Henry Shen, but it's a holiday when some are driving around, looking for a place to eat.

"A lot of other restaurants are closed, and people gotta eat," Shen said. "Se we are open on Christmas Day ... We are open on New Year's and we are open on Thanksgiving.

But Christmas, by far, isn't the slowest day for the restaurant. The worst day, he said, is the Fourth of July.

"People don't eat out," he said. "They just eat their barbecue all day."



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