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Restrictions cause local bars and restaurants to move toward more low key NYE celebrations

Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 11:03 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Bars and restaurants face fewer restrictions than originally expected for one of the biggest nights of the year, but owners aren’t taking any chances as they continue to operate in the face of rollbacks.

New Year’s Eve celebrations are going to be more low-key this year. Due to masking, social distancing, and capacity restrictions, it’s the only way to ensure everyone’s safety.

Aaron Curs is the co-owner of Paddock Lane and Tipsy Turtle, two bars located right next to each other, in College Station.

“The whole year’s been about adjusting and finding new ways to do things, and this is no exception,” Curs said. “It’s a unique new year with unique challenges.”

One of those adjustments includes tweaking Paddock’s signature champagne toast at midnight each year. Curs says normally people crowd around the bar as the new year approaches, but this year staff will be making sure groups remain at their respective tables to toast within themselves.

“We’re going to adjust to the spacing as best we can,” Curs said. “Obviously, we can’t have masses of people surrounding the bar. But we’ll have all the fun gimmicky stuff we normally have, it will just be a very well spaced out, fun, gimmicky New Year’s Eve celebration.”

But at least those capacity restrictions won’t be as severe as originally thought. Bars and restaurants in Brazos County were expected to drop to 50% capacity due to the high number of patients with COVID-19 who are hospitalized in our region. College Station Mayor Karl Mooney says until the city receives official word from Gov. Greg Abbott’s Office, operations can continue at 75% capacity.

Still, some bar owners like Barry Ivins, who owns Carney’s Pub & Grill in Bryan and Corner Bar and Rooftop Grill on Northgate, say they’re playing it safe.

“We can’t get quite as many people as we would’ve had here previously,” Ivins said. “Usually on a night like this, we have DJs and a big party on New Year’s Eve, but we’ve toned it down and gone a little bit more formal and have some tablecloths on some of the tables.”

Ivins says in normal years, his bars would be packed with a high-energy DJ performing. Due to the health and safety concerns, he decided to switch up the theme at Carney’s this year to resemble something similar to a masquerade party feel, with softer jazz music playing so people can enjoy themselves at the table within their groups more easily.

“We told all our regulars and friends and family to come up and support us since we went more low-key with it,” Ivins said.

Both Ivins and Curs say just because things will be more low-key doesn’t mean saying goodbye to 2020 will be any less fun.

“How happy can we be it’s the last day of 2020?” Ivins said. “I mean, we have it over with. We made it. We survived.”

“We are going to party like rockstars, very well-spaced, hygenic rockstars who wash their hands thoroughly,” Curs said. “We’re going to try to bring the same vibe we would on any other New Year’s, but this year’s already been such a fun dumpster fire, we might as well at least go out with a bang.”

Regarding the governor’s order, Mayor Mooney says it could go into effect locally as early as next week. It all depends on when he receives those official documents directing the city to do so.

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