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Surviving the wallet gobble: Restaurants, non-profit push through Thanksgiving inflation prices

Despite raising customers' prices, fried turkey orders at some restaurants are selling out, and it's the same story for a local non-profit.

SAN ANTONIO — It may be colder than in years past, but Les Thomsen's fried turkeys are still a red-hot commodity.

"The first year we did 75 turkeys," Thomsen said.

Thomsen is the president and co-founder of Noah's Farm. The non-profit's proceeds from fried turkey sales reach more than 9,000 miles away in Zimbabwe.

"Part of the money will go to digging a water well," he said. "Some of it will go towards a high school that we are trying to build in Zimbabwe. And then some will go to scholarship money for the kids."

Fifteen years after its birth, Noah's Farm will sell 1100 turkeys, 650 of which will get fried on Thanksgiving morning.

"I remember back about 30 years ago, that friend of ours from Louisiana taught me how to deep fry turkeys," he said. "I thought, Hey, why don't I take a hobby and convert it into a fundraising activity?"  

Donors will help 200 turkeys go to wounded warriors and disabled veterans. The organization still needs donors, but it doesn't need a push.

Noah's Farm was able to push past Thanksgiving inflation and stay on mission.

"The cost of peanut oil has gone up. Cost of propane has gone up. Cost of turkeys has gone up," he said. "Everything that we use, the price has gone up. So we did have to raise our price this year. The price is $79 for a turkey."

Set up at the Alzafar Shrine along North Loop 1604, Thomsen and his volunteers are sold out of their mild Cajun-flavored birds.

All thirteen of the Houston-based BB's Tex Orleans are also sold out of fried turkey. They have a San Antonio location in the 5400 block of West Loop 1604.

"For 2021, I ordered 3700 turkeys," Adam Gilvarry said.

Gilvarry, the Vice-President of food and beverage for BB's Tex-Orleans, said he expects Thanksgiving sales to reveal 4,000 fried turkeys sold.

He said they start their turkey program right after Thanksgiving for the upcoming year. This year's inflation was an obstacle they overcame.

"We have definitely seen an increase in our cooking oil year-to-year date from November 2021 to this month...this year," he said. "We have seen an 11 percent increase."

According to Gilvarry, they use cottonseed oil---a vegetable oil blend. The price of the product skyrocketed, he said, last summer by 37 percent when food-supply chain pressures were at a maximum.

"That was a logistical curveball for us," he said.

Even with the price of their cooking oil coming down, turkey costs went up by 10 percent. Absorbing the cost was not something the company could do, he said.

"On these turkeys, we had to increase our prices," Gilvarry said. "So that fried turkey we offer did do up five dollars."

Acadiana Cafe owner Dave Saylor said propane, peanut oil, and turkey prices were cost-prohibitive.

Saylor's Cajun fried turkey is not on the menu this year. Instead, he's offering an injection of Cajun spices at no cost to customers who purchase sides from his menu for Thanksgiving.

Los Toscos Locos said it was still offering fried turkeys for customers who want them. The Alamo Ranch Parkway food truck said inflation had not impacted their turkey program.

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