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Eateries ready for New Year’s Eve rush

Reservations required for dining’s ‘busiest night of the year’

Barbara Luckner takes orders from diners (from left) Vincent Strate, John DeArment, Arlene DeArment and Anna Pisaniello, at the Allegro Restaurant. Owner Dan Taddei says New Year’s Eve is the biggest night of the year for the restaurant. Mirror file photo

Local restaurants are ready for what they call their busiest night of the year — New Year’s Eve.

“It is our biggest night of the year. We have been busy the entire holiday season,” said owner Frank Finelli of Finelli’s Italian Villa, Altoona. “We have a lot of reservations and will definitely sell out.” Finelli added that a lot of reservations were made early and that the restaurant offers a special menu for the holiday season.

Allegro owner Dan Taddei of Altoona echoes Finelli’s sentiment.

“It is our biggest night of the year. We refuse people — we can’t take care of everyone,” Taddei said. “A lot of the same people come back every year. We have some people who have been coming here since we opened 41 years ago.”

Taddei says he enjoys New Year’s Eve at the restaurant.

“I enjoy the people more than anything,” he said. “I am getting older, but I get the adrenaline going. It is a fun night.”

Independent restaurants that stay open on New Year’s Day often increase profits by 40 to 50 percent compared to average days, according to data from CAKE — a Sysco-owned technology company that specializes in point-of-sale and guest management technology for independent restaurants. OpenTable, a restaurant reservation service, found in 2015, that restaurants served more than three times as many meals on New Year’s Eve, compared to the average day.

According to Toast, a restaurant technology platform based in Boston, Mass., restaurant sales increased 5 percent on New Year’s Eve 2018, compared to average December sales excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

However, there were 18 percent fewer online orders on New Year’s Eve and 75 percent fewer online orders than average on New Year’s Day.

Pennsylvania ranked ninth among the 50 states in New Year’s Eve dining sales, according to Toast.

Tavern 27 at Park Hills Golf Club, Altoona, expects to be busy.

“We will have a New Year’s Eve buffet from 5 to 9 p.m. and will serve roughly 150. For the whole day, we expect to serve about 200 people,” General Manager Dennis Shreve said. “Our turnout has been pretty steady over the last three years, and that is a good thing. Reservations are required.”

General Manager Arley Hooder of Traditions Restaurant, Martinsburg, isn’t sure what to expect.

“It is usually a fairly good evening for us. Being on a Tuesday, I am not quite sure what to expect. We haven’t had New Year’s Eve in the middle of the week for a while. We may serve about 180 people.” Hooder said. “The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day has always been a very busy week for us; a lot of families are home and visiting and people are out and about.”

Finelli said New Year’s Eve dining out has changed over the years as law enforcement cracks down on driving under the influence violations.

“A lot people now go out early,” he said. “Years ago, they would stay late until the wee hours.” But now, Finelli said, “We are usually dried up by the midnight hour.”

Taddei said he hasn’t seen much change.

“New Year’s Eve is the same for us. We have our regular clientele. We pick about 35 favorite items for our main menu for New Year’s Eve — the most popular dishes,” Taddei said.

“The prices are the same,” he said. “I don’t raise the prices for New Year’s Eve and never will.”

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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