Regional lockdown extended, quieter night for restaurants
What is usually a night full of champagne and locals eagerly waiting for the ball to drop at restaurants, bars and hotels will be a lot quieter this New Year’s Eve.
With the regional stay-at-home order extended until Jan. 21, many local food and drink establishments will choose to close their doors early on New Year’s Eve at a time when they’re only able to serve food to go.
State Street is typically bustling with activity on the last day of the year, with residents dressed up and ready to reflect on the previous year and ring in the new one.
Sandbar, for example, typically hosts a dance party with club music and stays open well into the night.
This year, the Mexican restaurant and tequila bar can only serve takeout, and it will close at its usual hour.
Dustdin Guthrie, one of Sandbar’s managers, said the loss from New Year’s Eve will be “pretty huge.”
“We’ll be lucky to make probably 20% of our usual sales, hopefully,” he told the News-Press. “We’re just taking it day by day hoping for the best and trying to do takeout and get as much as we can from that, which isn’t much compared to what we usually get.”
However, he said Sandbar is offering a deal to customers that if they spend more than $50, they get a $10 gift card.
At Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen, the doors are typically open until 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve for residents to stop in and have some drinks and food before heading to wherever they choose to watch the ball drop and celebrate.
This year, the crafthouse will close at 8 p.m. for the curfew and is only able to open for takeout.
“It’s a huge impact because it’s usually pretty packed and busy,” Finney’s General Manager Katy Thomas told the News-Press. “Obviously we’re losing out on a ton, probably tens of thousands.”
She added that it will be a regular day for the most part.
“We’re doing what we can to keep the doors open, so it’s hard to offer up any type of promotional things like that,” Ms. Thomas said. “Hopefully things start to change a little bit in 2021.”
At Joe’s Cafe, manager Joey Somerville referred to the pandemic and the need to avoid crowds. He told the News-Press, “Hopefully it’ll be nothing like a normal New Year’s.”
Joe’s Cafe is also only able to serve takeout from its usual hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and it will not change for this New Year’s Eve.
“We’re hoping to see a lot of people out on the streets,” Mr. Somerville said, referring to the to-go business. “Because we’ve been here for so long, we’re lucky to have a big amount of regulars that visit on New Year’s, both early and late.”
New Year’s Eve dinner at Joe’s Cafe typically starts at 5 p.m. and continues on, and the bar stays open until 12:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Mr. Somerville said that if staff is lucky and has a good day, the restaurant will make about 10 to 15% of what it normally would on Dec. 31.
“It’s obviously a big night, but not this year,” the manager said. “And usually, New Year’s Eve is a time when restaurants are able to raise prices for a special occasion, but we want to go with what Joe’s does on a normal basis, and hopefully our regular crowds appreciate that everything will be pretty reasonable.”
Joe’s Cafe will be open on New Year’s Day at 10 a.m. as well, for those needing a hearty brunch to-go.
By the same token, at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, the typical gatherings and dance parties will also not occur this New Year’s Eve.
“This year, obviously, is night and day different from any years that have passed with celebrations,” Ritz-Carlton Bacara General Manager Steven Janicek told the News-Press.
Typically, the Goleta resort’s five restaurants and other lounges serve food and drinks to guests and those guests are able to enjoy live entertainment and DJs. This year, the hotel will simply be offering room service and food to go for members and people from the community.
However, within those offerings will be special New Year’s Eve menus and party favors for guests to celebrate in their rooms.
“Everything is in the privacy of their guests’ rooms, but we’re making the best of it,” Mr. Janicek said. “We communicate heavily with our guests pre-arrival so they know what to expect.
“Most guests are from Southern California, so they’re aware and compliant with state and county regulations. It’ll be a lot quieter than years past, but it’ll still be a celebration for people to look backwards and reflect and look forward with optimism.”
Because New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year for the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Mr. Janicek said he would put the impact of the inability to gather under the banner: “significant.”
“Not only does it go late, but it starts early the next morning. Typically we’re sold out,” the general manager said. “This impacts a lot of people — not just business levels, but all those ladies and gentlemen actively working throughout the resort earning incomes are not going to be with us this New Year’s Eve.”
The resort’s restaurants will operate at their normal hours for takeout, and room service will stay open but with a reduced closing time.
“It’s so hard because some of these restaurants, us included, have been through a challenging year, and maybe we’ve hit bottom and we’ll come back in January and February and the year will be stronger as we move into it,” Mr. Janicek said.
“That’s all we can hope for — that we will become safer.”