New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cleveland were muted or hosted on a smaller scale as restaurant owners adapt to survive

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Posted at 11:54 AM, Jan 01, 2021

CLEVELAND — New Year’s Eve celebrations were muted or hosted on a smaller scale leaving 2020.

“Usually I’m not a huge fan of going out on New Year’s Eve but this year I just want 2020 to be over,” Amy Naeem said.

Like all celebrations since March of 2020, ringing in the year 2021 had a different ring to it.

“We’ve got drinks to-go,” Rocco Whalen said. “We’ve got champagne to-go.”

Whalen owns Fahrenheit, a popular restaurant and bar in Tremont, and is doing all he can to keep his business afloat while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines by the state and federal government.

“We’re in and out. We’re at about 50% capacity which is better than nothing,” Whalen said. “2020 is different and we all know that. We all have our plexiglass and our masks and our PPE, but we pivot and do what we need to do.”

The key variable to consider while Ohioans waved goodbye to 2020? Ohio’s 10 p.m. curfew which Gov. Mike DeWine has extended multiple times.

“Normally I have a party on New Year’s Eve but with all that’s going on with COVID and everything, I just felt it would be best to let everybody do their own thing,” Chris Costell said. “I’ll just be home in my PJs with my dog and if my son gets home before midnight, we’ll have a glass of wine. Good riddance to the old and bring on the new.”

Whalen said the curfew made things difficult for business owners, but the only choice was to adapt.

“The new New Year’s Eve is now at 9:00. You’ve got to push things up a little bit,” Whalen said. “Typically without the curfew we do some bar entertainment, drinks, cocktails, or after-dinner drinks, so it’s been a challenge for all restaurants. Not just this restaurant.”

But ending a year of financial, emotional and health-related stress on a positive note, Whalen said he is choosing to close the 2020 chapter and look ahead while being grateful for loyal customers.

“It’s a very trying time for the industry, but also it’s an opportunity for us to learn from it, come back better than ever but be forward-thinking,” Whalen said.

The 10 p.m. curfew in Ohio is in effect until at least Jan. 23.

“I hope everything just looking toward spring, summer, fall is back to normal,” Naeem said. “Where we’re not wearing masks, we can see people smile. We can enjoy each other, get back out and hopefully the economy will improve.”