A New Year’s Eve like no other for Roanoke area bars and restaurants

Alcohol curfews and limited hours means it’s just another Thursday

ROANOKE, VA. – With the state cutting off alcohol sales at 10 p.m. and closing restaurants by midnight, a night of partying on New Year’s Eve just isn’t possible.

At Martin’s in downtown Roanoke, owner Jason Martin said it’s just another Thursday.

“With having to close at 10, there’s no champagne toast, there’s no band ringing in the new year, there’s no Times Square on the TVs. All that goes away and all that revenue goes away with it, unfortunately,” Martin said.

It will be a new year, but unfortunately, not much of a fresh start and there won’t be much celebration.

“Our first New Year’s we had only been open about a month and we were capacity, sold out, and we have been at capacity for every New Year’s we’ve ever been open, so this will be the first time in 15 years that we will not have a full bar,” Martin said.

Even outdoor celebrations, from New York City to Roanoke, aren’t happening.

JD Sutphin owns Big Lick Entertainment and hosts the annual Big Lick Countdown. He canceled this year facing restrictions and weighing the thought of people’s safety.

The event brings people in from as far as Pennsylvania and Ohio, all spending money in the area.

“It’s kind of uncharted territory when you think about the economic impact that’s been lost this year,” Sutphin said. “And then they come to this New Year’s Eve event and they’re here, they’re staying a hotel, they’re eating three meals a day, they’re going shopping throughout downtown, Roanoke, Salem, Vinton, wherever.”

Local non-profits will also take a hit. The proceeds from the Big Lick Countdown are always donated to a local non-profit and Sutphin said it will be tough to not hand over a check this year.

“On an average year it’s usually like 15 to $20,000 that they can raise in four or five hours of an event, it’s unbelievable what you can do with that, these are unrestricted funds,” Sutphin said

Some restaurants, like Sidewinders, have decided to stay closed completely. Others are just closing early with toasts at 8:30 p.m. instead of 11:59 p.m. Martin wanted to be open however and said they’re looking forward to when they can make up lost time.

“St. Patrick’s Day will be a great one, or anytime in the spring, whenever this thing is behind us. We’re going to definitely throw a big party and make up for some of the lost opportunities that were in 2020,” Martin said.

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