Cafe Merlot offers holiday dining options

Toni Kraft, owner of Cafe Merlot.             Photo by Emily Sorensen
Toni Kraft, owner of Cafe Merlot. Photo by Emily Sorensen

By Emily Sorensen

Looking to do something special for Thanksgiving? Want a big holiday meal, but don’t have the time to make one? Cafe Merlot has you covered this holiday season.

The restaurant, located within the Bernardo Winery at 13330 Paseo del Verano Norte, is shaking things up this Thanksgiving with a special take-out holiday menu, as well as offering special Holiday Nights dinners in December.

This year, Cafe Merlot is offering three styles of carry-out Thanksgiving meals that serve four: a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for $119, a “not so traditional” dinner for $129, and a vegan Thanksgiving dinner for $99. All three dinners include a main course, sides, vegetable dish and a choice of dessert. Everything will be cooked fresh in-house.

“This is something I’ve been doing for select clients for years,” said Cafe Merlot owner Toni Kraft. “I’ve just opened it up to everyone this year, at the request of clients.”

The dinners will be made at Cafe Merlot, and clients can pick them up the week of Thanksgiving (but not on Thanksgiving itself), or arrange for delivery prior to Thanksgiving. Reservations for Holiday Nights dinners should also be made as early as possible, due to limited space.

If you’re throwing a holiday party this year, why not let Cafe Merlot handle the food? Kraft and her team are offering three special holiday menus, for corporate or personal events. You can pick up the food yourself, have it delivered, or you can arrange to have your event held at the restaurant.

The three holiday menus vary widely, but all include appetizers, a salad course, an entree, a vegetable dish, a starch and dessert, as well as a special holiday drink to greet your guests when they arrive.

Not planning a party, but still want a special holiday meal? Cafe Merlot will be open for dinner from 5 - 8 p.m. for four nights, December 12 - 15. “[Holiday Nights] is very special,” said Kraft. “The whole village is lit up, and there are carriage rides and activities.” Enjoy a special menu while indoors or outdoors to enjoy the winter night — complete with outdoor heaters and cozy blankets.

Kraft recommends booking early for all three special holiday offerings. Cafe Merlot will be taking Thanksgiving reservations up until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Kraft is also working on a new fundraising service, Shop It Forward. The program, found at

www.shopitforwardmarket.com

, provides a reliable stream of fundraising to organizations such as schools, sports teams and nonprofits that sign up with it, through the people who use the program to buy groceries online, many provided by local farmers and artisans. “We’re asking people to look into fundraising differently in 2014,” said Kraft. For Kraft, who hosts at least two nonprofit fundraising events a month at Cafe Merlot, giving back is just part of who she is. “If you’re not good to the community, the community won’t rally around local restaurants,” said Kraft.

Cafe Merlot is closed Mondays. The regular hours are breakfast from 10 - 11 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Tuesdays - Thursdays, and breakfast 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.  and lunch 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Fridays - Sundays, with brunch offered 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sundays. For reservations or more information, call 858-592-7785, or visit

www.cafemerlot.com

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