New Year’s Eve: The nightmare that plagues the takeout food industry

Why does everybody eat take out on New Year’s Eve?  One of the most celebrated and joyous days out of the year for the general public is also the most stressful and lucrative day of the year to anyone who works at a takeout restaurant. People have odd traditions for food on the holidays: home cooked prime rib on Christmas, home cooked turkey on Thanksgiving, home grilled burgers and hotdogs on the Fourth of July and takeout Chinese food/pizza on New Year’s Eve. It might be simple to cook for one household, but in order to cook for thousands of people, restaurants must prepare days in advance. 

Hundreds upon thousands of sauces are made ready, just so every customer can have something to dip their food in. Orders are taken as far as a week ahead for an exact time of which the food is expected to be hot and precisely what the customer ordered. Calls are made the WHOLE morning of New Year’s Eve asking,  “What time do you close?” or “How far should I place my order to have it ready at the time I want?” Almost all morning orders are taken for mainly a specific time:  5:30. When 4:45 comes around all mayhem is let loose. 

Workers are scrambling to put the orders together; lines and lines of food are piled to start cooking on a stove that cannot handle it. While this is unfolding, the phones ring non-stop with customers eager to place orders as wait times get longer and longer. Wait times can even grow to be over an hour because the stoves are so overwhelmed. It is amazing how fast things can go wrong. No matter how much prep is put in, when 5-6pm rolls around,  work has to be done at double the speed and it seems like the world turned into hunger games. But there is nothing anyone can do  besides try to handle the rush and get hot food out. Lines and lines of customers pile waiting to pay and leave. After the rush leaves,  employees are grateful to just sweep, mop and  go home to their families.

BUT IN  2020, like most things this year, New Year’s Eve was a trainwreck. With all of the COVID restrictions/ safety measures, many restaurants struggle to make ends meet. Restaurants this year have been forced to shut down due to the many months of lockdown, the closing of indoor dining,  and curfew and capacity measures. Restaurants have even had to take out loans just to stay afloat. 

New Year’s Eve to many restaurants was a means to make money and to help finance the restaurant for the rest of the year. According to, only 7% of Americans this year intend on going to a restaurant while the other 93% intend to stay home and cook. This means after New Year’s, we see a lot of potential restaurants closing. 

Restaurant closing caused a plummet in unemployment, with food services being the second most common occupation in the us. Many people are unable to provide food on the table or provide for their family. According to, 20% of Massachusetts restaurants have been closed FOR GOOD. Although it’s good people aren’t having social gatherings and are staying home to keep their loved ones safe, the side effects of lost business are detrimental to small restaurants. 

But there are many things that can be done to help, mostly pertaining to the government. The government could freeze mortgages and loans on restaurants, adjust future stimulus checks, and even facilitate relief packages. Restaurants continue to battle, but so many need immediate financial help. Fingers crossed – it will happen.