RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Business owners are thankful to end the year on a strong note as some restaurants and hotels are booked out for New Year's Eve celebrations.
"It's going to be a busy evening as it usually is," said Sean Fowler, owner of Mandolin Restaurant.
Fowler said sales at the Five Points location have been going pretty well in December.
"(I'm) cautiously optimistic. (Business is) certainly much better than the previous year, so that's always good," said Fowler.
Hotels are seeing a spike in patrons as people are flocking to festivities in downtown Raleigh. The Sheraton hotel in Raleigh is nearly sold out of rooms.
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"That's what's so good about First Friday and what it does and getting people back out. I think it's going to be a good event, safe event," said Leon Cox, Sheraton Raleigh General Manager.
The situation was vastly different last New Year's Eve; The vaccine wasn't widely available, and bars were required to cut off alcohol sales at 9 p.m. Establishments were doing champagne toasts well before the stroke of midnight.
With restrictions lifted this year, people are raising their glasses.
Restaurateurs said one of the biggest challenges remains: The labor shortage.
"That's one of our New Year's resolutions -- to hire a bunch of people," said Fowler.