Canceled Christmas parties take holiday strain on restaurants that host them

Updated: Dec. 18, 2020 at 11:21 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - 2020 has ruined a lot of things, not the least of which is the holiday party circuit.

“This has been a year like no other,” said Brent Robinson, VP of Concept Development for Georgia Blue, Genna Benna’s and The Gallows. “We’re to the point now that our calendars just say canceled, canceled, canceled, canceled. It’s a revenue stream that we count on every holiday season.”

It’s not just Robinson’s employers with the problem. It’s industry wide. Tonyalyn Burns, marketing manager for Bravo’s, said social distancing and CoViD guidelines have wiped their holiday slate clean as well.

“So we have many- all of our parties canceled either due to people in the office getting sick so it cuts down on that number or just not doing it because why would we ask you to come in?” she said.

Both say it’s been a lot of work to come up with viable solutions.

“For many restaurants right now, we’ve had to reinvent the wheel. You’ve done things that you didn’t do before, you’ve circumvented normal limitations that you thought you had before,” said Burns.

Robinson said it’s particularly frustrating that local businesses are having a blue Christmas, but some state officials seem to be rocking around the Christmas tree.

“For us to sit back looking at an empty event hall and see that the governor’s mansion is hosting a party, that’s just a slap in the face to a lot of businesses,” he said.

But as Robinson says, “If you want to have fun, you’re going to have fun.” Restaurateurs report people finding creative ways to abide by social distancing guidelines and still have their holiday shindigs.

“This was right before it went to 10 people and they had it early enough, a group came in and literally our event hall in Madison that will seat 150 to 200 people, they booked the entire thing for 20 people,” he said.

Burns said she really enjoyed one particular party Bravo’s catered.

“I know people who have done campfires in the front yard, and there are lines – glow stick lines – between people, so each family’s doing, and they’re having cocktails, but they’re staying that distance apart,” she said.

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