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Fine dining restaurants could take a hit from New Year's Eve Ohio State football game

People having dinner together and celebrating New Year's Eve
Yulia Grigoryeva
/
Shutterstock
Ohio restaurants fear diners will opt for sports bars where they can watch the big game.

It’s a tradition for many to dress up and go out for dinner at a nice restaurant on New Year’s Eve. But with the Ohio State Buckeyes taking on the Georgia Bulldogs in the Peach Bowl at 8 p.m. Saturday night, some restaurants are worried they might not see as many customers this year.

New Year’s Eve is typically one of the best nights of the year for fine dining restaurants, the Ohio Restaurant Association's John Barker said.

“They might order that extra bottle of wine or maybe some champagne, and that's a nice profit margin for restaurants and bars to be able to do that, fancy drinks. People loosen up a little bit typically around the holidays," Barker said.

But this year, Barker said, those nicer restaurants fear diners will opt for sports bars and other places where they can watch the big game. But, he thinks some Ohioans may eat earlier or make other accommodations.

“There's enough people, believe it or not, that they're not Ohio State football fans. I don't know any of them but apparently there are," Barker said. "And hopefully they are the ones making reservations, or they're just going to maybe have an earphone in while they are listening to the game."

Some hotels are also wondering who will show up on New Year's Eve, especially with OSU playing in Atlanta. But for Lisa Garner, it's not a problem.

Garner, the area general manager for Concord Hospitality, reports one of her hotels — the Marriott and Residence Inn near The Ohio State University campus — is booked solid thanks to a show with comedian Dave Chappelle at the nearby Schottenstein Center.

Other hotels, Garner said, are offering traditional New Year's Eve packages to try to lure customers into their facilities. But, she said, hotels have been finding consistency has been hard to come by in recent years.

"Hotels were definitely impacted because of COVID, and we are still... There are ebbs and flows in our business," Garner said.

She adds, business travel isn't what it was before the pandemic, nor are there as many meetings or conventions that help fill hotel spaces. Plus, she said there's another trend at play, especially on New Year's Eve.

"People are just happy to stay home with their families or go to a friend's house," Garner said. "And I think it's more apparent now that people want to stay home for the safety of their family and spending time together."

Like spending time watching a game together.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.
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