In a fitting ending to what has been anightmare2020 for the restaurant industry, restaurants and bars will be largely missing what is expected to be one of the most lucrative nights of the year.
New Years Eve – famous for its overpriced meals and plentiful alcoholic beverages – will be a quiet affair as restaurants grapple with occupancy limits, early curfews and, in many areas total ban on meals inside.
“In recent years, the run-up to the holidays was a time for everyone in the business to make money to get through the lean winter months,” said Kip Michel, CEO of the famous Roberta’s pizzeria in Brooklyn. “It’s a difficult time this year.”
Restaurants from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles brace themselves for another blow as the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep people away from overcrowded places and largely confined to their homes. According to a Morning Consult poll, only 7% of Americans plan to eat out on New Years Eve, while the most common plans were to cook dinner at home or watch a movie.
There is plenty to do for restaurants, which tend to do big business on the last night of the year. Visitors toOutback Steakhousejumped 48% on the last New Years Eve from an average day in 2019, whileOlive gardentraffic rose 29% andApplebeeincreased by 18%, according to an analysis by data tracking company Placer.ai. Based on trends for 2020, those channels could see declines of more than 30% this year, the company said.
“This is going to be a dramatic loss of revenue,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, which represents restaurants and bars in New York City, the mecca of New Year’s revelers. It will hurt businesses as well as to workers, he added, “employees being either out of work or tipping a fraction of what they normally would.”
Restaurants are looking for creative ways to offset declining sales, such as Zoom calls with magicians or special take-out menus and delivery with premium rates. Del Frisco’s Grill in Hoboken, New Jersey offers a take-out package of filet mignon, steamed lobster tail and truffle mac and cheese. At DS Tequila Co. of Chicago, there’s a New Years package of fried chicken and champagne.
“Tonight is normally huge for us because we pack a lot of food and drink and sell,” said Dusty Carpenter, director of operations and managing partner for Another Round Hospitality Group, which owns DS Tequila. For many customers, New Years Eve this year is “an afterthought.”
Many restaurants are struggling with curfews before the ball falls, putting another drag on the celebrations.
Wire fence 2021
Butterfly 25 south Orange, New Jersey, is due to close at 10 p.m. due to state restrictions. The restaurant struggled to book reservations for New Years Eve, when it would normally fetch up to $ 20,000, according to co-owner Yanick Ranieri. He ditched the traditional New Years Eve special menu, but offers a free champagne toast.
“This year, if we win $ 3,000, we will consider ourselves lucky,” Ranieri said.
Porter, which just opened a few weeks ago in neighboring Weehawken, New Jersey, will have two reduced-capacity seats starting at 4 p.m. And since diners must leave before midnight, the restaurant offers wine to take away at 15% off for customers. can continue the party at home.
Still, take-out alcohol, which propelled some bars and restaurants during the pandemic, can only help a lot. “Overall, Covid has been such a detriment to the industry,” said Lynne Collier, analyst at Loop Capital Markets. “The impact of New Years Eve only makes this situation worse.”
Dining inside is completely prohibited across the Hudson River. In Times Square, Manhattan, a tourist attraction such as the Olive Garden location can charge $ 400 a head on New Years Eve – the police put up barriers to keep people away.
Andrew Carmellini, chef and owner of Noho Hospitality Group, which has 18 restaurants and bars, mostly based in New York City, said he plans to bring in just 25% of usual income for New Years Eve. using creative Covid-based workarounds just to generate even a fraction of typical sales, including glass-walled sidewalk chalets to give diners an inside feel on the outside.
“One of the most overused words of the year is pivot,” Carmellini said. “But you have to pivot in the smartest way possible.”
Homeowners should also consider the weather. Like Carmellini’s cabins, Boston’s Woods Hill Pier 4 has set up “igloos” to help guests brave the cold temperatures, which are expected to drop to 27 degrees Fahrenheit. Diners preferred to eat al fresco during the warmer months, but are now thankful for the lighted pods inside, owner Kristin Canty said.
“If it’s cold, they love it,” she said.
In Beverly Hills, where restaurants have been closed for everything except take-out, celebrity mainstay La Scala has been criticized for promoting a ‘speakeasy’ style dining on New Years Eve with invitations stuck in delivery bags.
After an image of the invitation went viral, the city reached out. In a statement published on hiswebsite, the restaurant said it was only considering an event if the virus-related restrictions were lifted before the holidays and the person who wrote the invitation incorrectly said the party would be inside.
“If everyone turned their hatred into love and directed it to the people who need it instead of attacking the small businesses trying to survive, that would be a better use of their time,” the restaurant said.
At the Atlanta steakhouse known as Bones, New Years Eve would typically mean a room full of 600 people booked throughout the evening. But the restaurant, the meeting place of the city’s power elite for more than 40 years, has now capped its capacity at 300 diners to allow for social distancing. Even on New Year’s Eve, potential diners were happy to accept a reservation as early as 5:30 p.m. to allow for additional dinners as the evening progressed.
“It’s been a different year and everyone is excited to celebrate the New Year,” said Isabel Kane, restaurant’s customer relations manager. “People are so thankful that we are still here.”
– With help from Tom Moroney, Leslie Patton, Gerald Porter Jr., Elizabeth Campbell, Christopher Palmeri and Brett Pulley