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Money and Business

Many hospitality businesses facing much slower New Year’s Eve due to coronavirus restrictions

Epic Entertainment
Grover Beach-based Epic Entertainment ending 2020 not working at any live event on New Year's Eve. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. -- Just like it has since it started in mid-March, the COVID-19 pandemic will adversely affect many businesses one last time in the calendar year 2020 on New Year's Eve.

For a lot of hospitality-related businesses, New Year's Eve represents one of the busiest days of the year.

Places like hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs, typically are full of people who are gathering with end of the year celebrations.

"We'd be doing several corporate events," said Anthony Salas, owner of Grover Beach-based Epic Entertainment, which specializes in DJ, emcee and hosting services, as well as lighting, dance floor and photo booths for weddings, parties and other large-scale events."We have several contract events with hotels and resorts from Santa Maria, Pismo Beach, Paso Robles, that we have recurring events that happen every single year that just aren't happening this year. They're completely postponed."

However, with current COVID-19 restrictions in place, large gatherings are not permitted, causing many businesses to lose out on significant potential sales.

"It's completely wiped out, so we don't have anything going this New Year's when we normally would have several people out," said Salas.

It's another hard blow for businesses that have struggled through the pandemic over the past nine months.

While some area hotels and motels are reported to have full occupancy for New Year's Eve, others are not as fortunate.

"We have seen an astronomical decrease in occupancy," said Krysta Faulkner, The Agrarian Hotel General Manager. "It's very, very low compared to last year. 100 percent occupancy is what we're hoping to see and that is definitely not the case."

Faulkner said the year-and-a-half old hotel located in the Village of Arroyo Grande is no more than half full right now.

She added the hotel saw robust business during much of the year, but has experienced a dramatic turnaround the past couple of months.

"We were pretty busy throughout the summer," said Faulkner. "It's been this last quarter that we have seen a large decrease in occupancy and revenue, so for 2021 we hope that can change."

At nearby Gina's Italian Cuisine, the longtime restaurant is also expecting a big downturn on the last day of 2020.

"Probably around 30 to 50 percent," said general manager Miguel Padilla.

COVID-19 restrictions are allowing the restaurant to only serve meals through takeout or deliveries.

Without inside dining, the restaurant will have far fewer customers than it would have under normal circumstances.

"It's hard," said Padilla. "It's one of the busiest days. Same as Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. It's usually one of our top five days. It's usually busy."

As some businesses struggle through one final day of challenges in 2020, there are others that stand to enjoy a boost in sales.

"I'm expecting a pretty busy day," said Palo Mesa Pizza owner Michael Stevens. "Yes, absolutely. I think goodbye 2020 is going to be a good night tonight."

Stevens owns four different locations that serve up his international award-winning pizza.

He has a hunch why New Year's Eve could be so successful.

"I just think the parties aren't happening anymore, so people are relying on the local businesses to take care of them right now," said Stevens. "Order pizza and it comes to your door."

Stevens added the entire year has seen solid sales and is hopeful for even more success in the new year.

"We've been blessed," said Stevens. "The community has really taken good care of us. The staff has been great. I just feel honored to be able to provide for the community and it's been a blessing."

Business Matters / California / Community / Coronavirus / Economy / Entertainment / Events / Holidays / Safe at Home / Safety / San Luis Obispo County
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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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