Could COVID ruin New Years Eve for New York restaurants?


As New Years Eve revelers prepare for the countdown, restaurateurs at Big Apple are also nervously watching the time – hoping the surprisingly full reservation books aren’t wiped out by a wave of late-breaking cancellations. minute.

Ignoring Omicron fears and severe staff shortages, most places plan to be open on the normally noisy last night of the year. Many are offering high-priced special menus and live entertainment like they did in the pre-Covid days, betting on the minds of intrepid New Yorkers.

But most, like Stephen Starr, one of the city’s largest owners with eight Manhattan restaurants including Le Coucou, don’t know what to expect.

“Some people will cancel. Others will say ‘Screw it on’ and replace them, ”he predicted. “You feel a kind of resignation – ‘OMG, the virus is back’ – but also a lot of ‘fuck you, we’re dating anyway.’ It’s kind of refreshing.

‘Super upscale and intimate’

Many top spots come with bold overnight rates. Bond 45 in Times Square charges up to $ 2,000 for dinner, open bar, and a show, and Saga to Fidi sells coveted space and privacy, plus culinary extravagances and a breathtaking view for 1 $ 200, and all but two of its 50 seats are taken.

“In another year we might have staged a glitzy blast in Saga,” said co-owner Jeff Katz. “Considering the year, we opted for super high-end and intimate.

Diners don’t seem put off by the high price tags. Peak, who has late-night seating for $ 295, said he has a waiting list of 1,000, and the $ 925 gala at Daniel’s is sold out.

“Everyone has lost bookings from people staying, but a lot of people decide to stay in New York rather than leave, and they want to celebrate in style,” said Daniel Boulud. For those who want something a little more low-key, it deftly spills over into the festivities the following evening, Saturday, when it offers a seven-course meal for $ 350 and a four-course meal for $ 225.

However, some diners abandon their plans at the eleventh hour.

“It’s a moving target,” said Elaine Scotto. Midtown’s family-run restaurant, Fresco by Scotto, features an outdoor celebration as well as indoor festivities. “We had a lot of last minute cancellations, but also a lot of last minute additions.”

Fresco by Scotto in Midtown will be having an indoor and outdoor dinner party on New Years Eve. Standing left to right: Rosanna Scotto, Elaina Scotto. Sitting from left to right: Anthony Scotto Jr., Marion Scotto
James messerschmidt
The dining room at the Peak Restaurant on the 101st floor at 30 Hudson Yards.
The dining room at the Peak Restaurant on the 101st floor at 30 Hudson Yards.
Tamara beckwith

“Trying to restore normalcy”

Greek favorites Avra ​​and Kyma, each charging $ 250, are catered for, but cancellations continue and need to be replaced. “We are moving forward, doing what we need to do and trying to restore normalcy,” said Joe Ragonese, director of operations at Kyma, “I got a call an hour ago that two people in one group had COVID, so they canceled a table of 12. I’m sure we’ll fill it out.

Those who plan to party are as nervous as restaurant owners. John McDonald, owner of Lure, Hancock Street and Bowery Meat, said some diners are concerned he will pull out the plug. “Our customers who have booked have called us to make sure we will stay open so they aren’t caught off guard,” he said. “We can tell they’re looking to splurge because they’re pre-ordering caviar.”

Although cases are increasing, the reduction in the quarantine from 10 to five days by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has had a direct effect on bookings, according to Vladimir Kolotyan, a partner at Barbounia and Isabelle’s Osteria in the Flatiron District. Both locations will have DJs and Barbounia is offering a $ 120 seat later. “I was very surprised as we have had a lot of cancellations over the past two weeks, but after the CDC announced these reservations were filled and we now have a waiting list at both locations,” he said. he declared.

“We need to cheer everyone up! “

Above, caviar and champagne in Hancock Street.
Above, caviar and champagne in Hancock Street.
Daniel Krieger
Il Gattopardo's dining room.
Il Gattopardo’s dining room.
Courtesy of IL Gattopardo Group

Some restaurateurs almost feel that it is their civic duty to continue. Leopard and Il Gattopardo managing partner Gianfranco Sorrentino said they typically sell out for New Years Eve in the coming weeks, but 70 of its 300 seats remain open to Leopard. Still, he is optimistic. “We got a lot of decorations, balloons, hats and noisemakers because we have to cheer everyone up! “

Not everyone sticks to big party plans. Enrico Proietti, owner of Bella Blu, the Upper East Side hangout, canceled his late night party at $ 150 per person and moved all reservations to earlier seats. “We had planned the same special night with a DJ that we’ve been hosting for 26 years, but this neighborhood is so quiet that we decided to change it. This year, it will be rather comfortable and convivial ”, he declared.

Popular sushi mecca, Kissaki, has seen a 40% drop in bookings over the past two weeks, according to owner Garry Kanfer. He’s canceled his parties, but still offers a $ 200 omakase over the counter and takes care of customers who don’t feel comfortable going out by creating beautiful party boxes to deliver to their homes. “Challenges aside, this is New York,” he said. “The night will continue! “

Upper East Side mainstay Bella Blu has canceled her $ 150 per person late night party from previous years and is instead throwing a small, intimate celebration this year.
Upper East Side mainstay Bella Blu has canceled her $ 150 per person late night party from previous years and is instead throwing a small, intimate celebration this year.
Courtesy of Bella Blu
Above, Coucou's black sea bass, which will be served topped with caviar on New Year's Eve.
Above, Coucou’s black sea bass, which will be served topped with caviar on New Year’s Eve.
Tamara beckwith

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