Jackie Ade is used to handing out sparkling wine at Brewer’s Alley as the countdown to the New Year begins. But this year, the bar and restaurant will be empty long before Frederick rings in 2021.
Gov. Larry Hogan’s order that all restaurants and bars close by 10 p.m. has hindered these establishments since mid-November, but its effects will be even more evident on New Year’s Eve. Ade said Brewer’s Alley, located on Market Street, usually has a line out the door to get in up until midnight. This year, with capacity restrictions in place and the early closing, she’s just hoping to see some friendly faces.
“We’re going to try to celebrate, but … unfortunately everyone has to be out by 10 p.m,” Ade, a manager at the eatery, said.
The New Year’s Eve Key Drop by the Frederick Civitan Club on Carroll Creek has also been canceled this year.
Chris Owens, a bar manager at JoJo’s Restaurant and Taphouse on Patrick Street, said the scene at JoJo’s is likely to be much smaller this year. In a normal year, New Year’s Eve can bring in between $19,000 and $27,000. This year, the restaurant is aiming for $7,000.
“Most people, I assume, are just going to go to house parties and such,” Owens said.
For Owens, it doesn’t make sense to go out to a bar if you have to leave before the ball drops. The crowd he’s expecting is more likely to be getting dinner before going home to celebrate.
Like other restaurants in the area, Brewer’s Alley and JoJo’s will have special New Year’s Eve menus for takeout or dine-in to try to keep a reason to celebrate. Other restaurants, like Thacher & Rye and Born & Raised, are focusing on New Year’s Day brunches instead.
“Both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were always busy days [at Family Meal], and we expect them to be busy days this time,” said Dennis Hoffman, owner of Born & Raised. “We have plenty of heated seating on our outdoor patio as well as indoors.”
Most restaurants will still be open, but managers such as Ade expect it to be pretty much like any weekend night during the restrictions.
“We will have our rooftop open, but it still has to be closed by 10,” Ade said. “And we can’t have everyone mingling … no bar seating at all.”
Across the street, Bushwaller’s will most likely look similar. Manager and bartender Amanda Mayers said the 10 p.m. closing time has significantly impacted business at the pub. The bar was usually still getting customers until about midnight before the executive order, but it was closing before its usual 2 a.m. time on the weekend.
Still, Mayers said she trusts the governor’s decision.
“I do appreciate the hard work that everybody’s putting in to try to make sure everybody is staying as healthy and happy as they can,” Mayers said.
Wade Newman, owner of Shuckin’ Shack on South Market Street, estimates he’s lost about 40 to 50 percent of his business due to the 10 p.m. closures. The bar usually stays open until 2 a.m. on the weekends.
“I wish we could go back starting tomorrow and be open until 12 o’clock or 1, 2 o’clock in the morning,” Newman said. “... “Hopefully it does [change], but I don’t think they’re going to be making any changes anytime soon.”