With so many popular New Years Eve activities canceled or closed this year, restaurants have become more of a focal point for some revelers than ever before.
In town from San Diego, Joe, Linda, Natalie and Tucker Davis opted for a sunset meal at The Strat’s rotating Top of the World.
“My mom wants to party, and I want to party,” Tucker said as Linda and Natalie donned their 2021 party glasses midway through their meal.
“After this horrible 2020, we are so ready to celebrate 2021,” confirmed her mother, Linda.
Unlike some casinos, which limited New Years Eve seating in their restaurants to hotel guests only, all of The Strat’s restaurants were open to the public on Thursday.
“The main reason we don’t limit ourselves to just hotel guests is that we have truly become a local destination during COVID,” said resort vice president of food and beverage Zoey D ‘. Arienzo. “Our support from the community has been amazing, so we wanted to make sure we could provide these people with a New Years experience.”
D’Arienzo estimated that about 80 percent of New Years Eve restaurant reservations were for locals.
Things were a little quieter in the Arts District at 6 a.m. At the recently opened Good Pie Pizzeria on Main Street, which has yet to open its indoor dining area, a handful of patrons have enjoyed slices on the outdoor patio. Kim and Becca Winkfield of North Las Vegas were among them.
“We wanted to go down and see what was going on, but we didn’t want to be surrounded by too many people when it got crazy,” said Kim Winkfield.
Good Pie manager Gene Samuel said the majority of the evening’s business was take-out.
“Business is slammed,” he said. “The average (order) is five pies tonight.”
Around the corner at Garagiste Wine Room, master sommelier Justin Moore reported a similar trend of take-out sales exceeding in-house orders.
“I sold so much wine to take away,” he said, pointing to customers who left with a case.
At her bar, locals Ally and Carolyn, who chose not to give their last name, enjoyed a quick drink before taking their take out orders.
“It’s the start of the night,” Carolyn said. “We’re bringing wine home.”
“We’re just going to get drunk at home instead of getting drunk in a bar,” Ally added, when asked how this New Years Eve would be different from years before.
Across the street, however, Esther’s kitchen was filled to its 25% capacity prescribed by COVID.
“We sold out about a week and a half ago,” said James Trees, the restaurant’s chef and owner.
The scene in the community of Desert Shores was a touch more elegant and refined than the one downtown, with guests dressed to perfection at Marche Bacchus and neighboring Americana.
“It’s our real celebration, then a little house party,” Jesse Neely said as he dined with Taylor DeRose overlooking the man-made Jacqueline Lake. “Every two years I’m usually in a hotel, whether it’s on the Strip or downtown. So this year is much quieter.
For others, however, this New Year’s Eve was not that different from the previous ones.
“We call it our home restaurant,” Eric Shalita said at Marché Bacchus as Raiding the Rock Vault star Paul Shortino prepared to go to a makeshift “stage” for an unusually intimate performance in the restaurant. French.
“They treat us like family and this is absolutely our favorite restaurant in the valley,” Shalita said.
“It has become a tradition for the New Years,” added his wife, Caryn. “We have been here pretty much every year.
Marche Bacchus owner Rhonda Wyatt has promised a party to rival those of previous years, with Shortino and his band playing until at least midnight.
“We’re ringing at midnight,” Wyatt said. “And who knows after that.”
An earlier version of this story misspelled Caryn Shalita’s first name.