Boston Market Corp. is reporting record Thanksgiving sales this year — and it's already planning for next Thanksgiving.
The Golden, Colo.-based restaurant chain had not yet released specific dollar figures but said total sales per restaurant from Nov. 19 to Nov. 23 were up 13 percent from a comparable period last year.
CEO George Michel said he expected a 10 to 12 percent increase, following a 13 percent increase from Thanksgiving 2010 to 2011.
Menu prices this Thanksgiving were up only 2 percent from last year, Michel said.
The sales increase didn't include an order from Lowe's for 22,000 family meals for people in New York and New Jersey who were affected by Superstorm Sandy.
Boston Market's stores are open on Thanksgiving for people to eat dinner or buy entrees and side dishes to take home for their own celebrations. Michel, who worked with his wife at Miami-area Boston Market stores on Thanksgiving and the day before, said customers are becoming more aware of its holiday offerings.
One person who stopped by for Thanksgiving food in California: Ann Romney, Michel said.
"We offer a solution to people who have a busy life. We basically have a banquet ready for them to pick up and eat at home," Michel said. Then, of course, there are the people with Thanksgiving emergencies.
"We get calls sometimes from people who say, 'My oven just broke down. Can you help me,'" Michel said.
Boston Market's catering sales in the Thanksgiving period were up by 27 percent from last year, as it provided meals for airlines, call centers and other companies that wanted to feed employees who were working on the holiday or early on Black Friday.
For next year, Boston Market officials are discussing whether to use an outside party to provide temporary workers to help during Thanksgiving and whether to offer smaller cuts of ham.
In the meantime, Boston Market is working to open new stores in New York, New Jersey and Florida. Michel said he also wants to add stores on university campuses and in airports.
Catherine Tsai is on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ctsai_denver