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More Pittsburgh-area restaurants staying open on Christmas

| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 9:29 p.m.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Line cook Leizhen Lee works in the kitchen Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, at China Palace in Shadyside.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Line cook Pablo Domingo (center) shares a laugh with fry cook Alfonso Florentino (left) and waiter Paul Liu (hand) in the kitchen Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, at China Palace in Shadyside.

There may be no place like home for the holidays, but that doesn't mean everyone eats there.

More Pittsburgh-area restaurants are staying open on Christmas Day, and that's because the appetite for non-home cooking is growing.

The tradition of Chinese restaurants operating on Christmas Day remains strong and includes China Palace restaurants in Monroeville, Shadyside, Sewickley and McCandless.

“It's the busiest day of the year for us,” said Gregg Katz, manager of China Palace Shadyside. “We get bigger parties, a lot of students who didn't go home and large deliveries to families who might have relatives visiting from out of town.”

Nationally, about 2 percent of people plan to eat Christmas dinner at a restaurant, according to a survey conducted in September by The NPD Group Inc., a Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm. That's consistent with the past several years, NPD said.

Some dining spots are open because they're affiliated with hotels, including Downtown restaurants Braddock's American Brasserie at the Renaissance Hotel, Habitat at the Fairmont Hotel and the Terrace Room at the Omni William Penn.

The Terrace Room will serve brunch from noon to 6 p.m. with performances by a jazz duo, and the Tap Room and Speakeasy will open in the evening, serving drinks and light fare, said Sarah Shriber, marketing manager at the hotel.

“We have guests who come just for brunch,” she said.

Casino restaurants, such as Andrew's Steak and Seafood at Rivers Casino on the North Shore, or Bistecca at Meadows Racetrack & Casino in North Strabane, will be open.

“The people who are open are open because the business is there,” said Kevin Joyce, owner of The Carlton, Downtown, which will be closed on Christmas. “Every year, I always threaten my family with opening on Easter and Thanksgiving because I know I could do well those days.”

Other open restaurants are affiliated with national chains, including Denny's, which is open 24 hours, Buca di Beppo locations in Robinson and Station Square, McCormick & Schmick's restaurants in Downtown and the South Side; and Mitchell's Fish Market in Mt. Lebanon and at The Waterfront in Homestead.

The Smallman Street Deli in Squirrel Hill will open, though the deli's Strip District location will not.

“I do it for the neighborhood, just to give people a place to meet and hang out,” owner Jeff Cohen said.

Cohen gets volunteers to work, rather than forcing employees to come in.

Some Thai and Indian restaurants will be open, including Curry on Murray in Squirrel Hill and the Taj Mahal on McKnight Road in Ross.

A few notable chains will be closed: Eat ‘n Park, Kings Family Restaurants, Burgatory, Uncle Sam's, Joe Mama's and Fuel & Fuddle.

Staff writer Tory N. Parrish contributed. Matthew Santoni is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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