Turkey and dressing is synonymous with Thanksgiving, but it’s also a signature dish year-round at Wade’s Restaurant in Spartanburg.
“Thursdays and Sundays are by far our busiest days, and people come specifically for turkey and dressing,” said the restaurant’s general manager Wade Lindsey III. “But what a lot of people haven’t realized yet is that we now serve it on Tuesdays, too.”
There’s a distinctive flavor to the dressing at Wade’s that keeps customers coming back week after week and year after year.
“Probably the biggest thing about our dressing is that it’s made with our yeast rolls and cornbread, which are both family recipes,” Lindsey said. “We’re pretty famous for our yeast rolls specifically and we have great cornbread too, so what’s neat about it is that it’s got two of our most popular items in there.
“We make several barrels of dressing every time we do it, and we put all raw products in there. We use turkey broth from the turkeys we’re cooking, and we make it from scratch.”
Lindsey said green beans and sweet potato soufflé are among the favorite sides Wade’s customers get to complement the turkey and dressing.
“Each year, we go through about 100,000 pounds of turkey, and about 5,500 of that is for Thanksgiving week alone,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey added that the restaurant creates about 10,000 gallons of dressing each year, which makes for more than 300,000 servings.
Wade’s is open on Thanksgiving but also offers dressing for those wishing to purchase it for use with their own at-home holiday meals. Lindsey said the restaurant makes about 12,000 quarts of frozen dressing during the Thanksgiving season.
“People come in and get our homemade dressing, and all they have to do is thaw it out, put in the pan and heat it up,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey, whose grandparents Wade and Betty Lindsey founded the restaurant in 1947 and whose father Hamp Lindsey and aunt Carole Miller now own it, isn’t sure when turkey and dressing became a signature item at Wade’s. He’s 31 years old, and it’s been a staple there all of his life.
Turkey and dressing is so popular at Wade’s that the restaurant once devoted one of its famous billboards specifically to it.
“We had a turkey in a dressing room, and it said, ‘Turkey Dressing,’” Lindsey said of the cartoonish illustration and play-on-words that were part of the popular tongue-in-cheek Wade’s billboards. “The turkey was behind the wall getting dressed, and it had a look on its face like it had been caught.”
Playful billboard campaigns aside, it’s the quality of the Southern cuisine that has made Wade’s a popular destination for generations of Spartanburg area residents.
“The big thing people say about our food is that it reminds them of their grandmother’s cooking,” Wade Lindsey III said. “That’s the biggest compliment you can get.
“And we hear that a lot about our turkey and dressing. Thanksgiving is such a family-oriented holiday so for people to think of us for such a signature item around that holiday is pretty neat to us.”