Milwaukee business adapts to pandemic-altered New Year's Eve

For Milwaukee, Dec. 31 marks an atypical New Year's Eve as many people celebrate at home. As a result, it won't be a typical New Year's Even for many Milwaukee businesses.

2020 has not been a good year for the restaurant industry. Many closed their doors to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many others are still holding on and finding new ways to survive.

"It’s challenging for sure," said Justin Carlisle, chef and owner of Ardent. "Trying to adjust and adapt to any means necessary to stay alive and keep our employees employed."

Ardent, an upscale restaurant on Milwaukee's lower east side, is adapting this New Year's Eve -- selling celebration kits to-go. There will still be indoor seating for eight customers total for the night with reservations made in advance.

Justin Carlisle

"We abide by all the COVID regulations and everything else, but we just try to keep it safe and private for those individuals and especially safe for our staff," Carlisle said.

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association said that New Year's Eve is "typically a very busy night, and tonight has definitely provided some challenges" for businesses. The association recommends that when restaurants, their staff and consumers follow established safety practices, give support as much as possible.

Ardent prepares for New Year's Even to-go orders on Dec. 31, 2020

Carlisle, grateful for the dozens of orders made in advance for people celebrating the end of 2020, is still worried about the months ahead.

"We’ve learned a lot this year, we’ve definitely learned a lot about our business," said Carlisle. "January and February, which are usually slower months for us in the industry….but until we find out what’s going to happen out, let’s continue the support."

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association recommends that, rather than using an app, consumers call local restaurants to have a conversation and see how things have changed for them -- finding out what they have to offer.

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