'Hope for the best': Raleigh businesses hope for strong turnout on New Year's Eve

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Thursday, December 29, 2022
Raleigh businesses hope for strong turnout on New Year's Eve
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With crowds expected to flock to downtown Raleigh, businesses are hopeful for a strong turnout as they cap 2022.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- With crowds expected to flock to downtown Raleigh, businesses are hopeful for a strong turnout as they cap 2022.

"We get a lot of the kids in early and as it gets later in the evening, it becomes more of an adult party and it's a really good time," said Steve Hunt, owner of The Big Easy on Fayetteville Street.

The restaurant does not take reservations when streets are shut down, though they are selling tickets for $25 after the dinner rush, where they'll rearrange tables for a band near its entrance.

"I have the capacity to (host) 317 people, so that's a lot to sell out. We may not sell out, but we'll definitely be hopping in here," Hunt said.

He shared that large-scale events, whether its Artsplosure, Brewgaloo, or New Year's Eve, which draw people to downtown, are key for his business.

"It brings people that may not come down here on a regular basis, the people that are working down here, they know we're here, but the people that are coming for the events, they may or may not. They might even be coming from out of town. Any excitement that comes to Fayetteville Street is definitely a big benefit for us," explained Hunt.

Down the street, City Club Raleigh is bringing back its New Year's Eve party, opening it up to both members and non-members.

"The dinner portion of the event has been sold out. We still have room to grow to fill this ballroom, but we are expecting over 100 people," said Director of Member Experiences at City Club Raleigh.

The social club has about 1,200 members, who can pay a discounted rate to attend Saturday. Tickets to the party portion, which cost $190, will be available through Friday afternoon, with the night including a 10-piece band, photos, and drinks.

"We also partnered with the downtown Residence Inn for those folks who maybe wanted to make it a staycation," Miller added.

According to Wallet Hub, 70% of Americans spend at least $50 on New Year's Eve food and drinks, and 37% plan to eat out or go to parties.

"Definitely noticing the last-minute (interest), I think everybody wanted to get through Christmas. With the capacity in our dining space, I think we're at a good number," Miller said.

Over at Cucciolo Terrazza in North Hills, reservations are largely booked up for Saturday.

"We're doing a four-course pre-fixe menu, so it's a completely different menu from our regular one," said owner Jimmy Kim.

Kim owns a sister location in Durham, which will offer a separate menu as well.

"We like to do a pre-fixed menu for special occasions. Mainly for Valentine's Day, Christmas Eve and New Year's. And we also host a variety of our charity and other special events in-house for which we like to create a different menu," Kim said.

He pointed to recent success of special evenings in helping create long-term customers, a pattern he hopes plays out again.

"Unfortunately we had to miss (the event) last year due to the pandemic, and half of our staff actually had COVID," Kim said.

Staffing challenges have largely been addressed, though they continue to face pressure from inflation on products as they balance that out with customer pricing. Still, Kim believes the worst challenges are behind them.

"If anything the past three years taught me, expect for the worst and hope for the best," said Kim.