Bars and restaurants scaling back New Year’s Eve celebrations due to Ohio curfew

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — New Year’s Eve is traditionally one of the best nights of the year for bars and restaurants, but the COVID-19 curfew has thrown yet another curveball at the hospitality industry.

Local owners are trying to salvage what they can from a shortened last night of the longest year in memory.

Char Whiskey Bar and Grille in Rocky River is known for its prime cuts of beef, but owner Gabriel Zeller says some of the sizzle will be missing on New Year’s Eve because of the State of Ohio’s 10 p.m. curfew.

“Typically, we would have liked a five course meal or something like that for our guests to come in and enjoy with you know champagne toasts at the end of the evening. With the ten o’clock restrictions, we’re going to try and have as much fun as we can in the hours that we’re allotted,” said Zeller.

Char’s signature whiskey bar might have been a good spot to say goodbye to 2020, but now revelers must be out the door two hours before the ball actually drops. Zeller is trying to entice New Year’s Eve customers by offering dinner and drink packages at discounted prices.

“The restaurant business was never easy before and this is, you know, a new curveball in operations but we’re seven months in, and we’re managing to feel it out,” said Zeller.

A group of locally owned bars and restaurants, known as “Cleveland Independents,” is encouraging Northeast Ohioans who have decided to stay home, to support their favorite places by ordering “New Year’s To-Go.”

In Tremont, Fahrenheit owner, Chef Rocco Whalen, is inviting customers to celebrate the end of 2020 with carry- out packages filled with his signature dishes and drinks.

“You know, a ten ounce fillet to go, just as if you were sitting in the restaurant here, my short ribs that are legendary, the lobster mac and cheese, seared tuna, then some deserts. It comes nice and packaged, we’re geared towards to-go since March with everything that’s been going on,” he said.

Chef Whalen says because of the curfew, his dine-in customers will be invited say farewell to 2020 with a champagne toast a little earlier than usual.

“A lot of people are saying, friends in the industry, nine o’clock is the new midnight, so at 9, 9:30, we’ll do a quick toast with everybody and thank everybody for another year of loyal patronage, you know it’s the culmination of  a year in the hospitality industry, a very difficult one, one that we have never seen before,” he said.

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