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Restaurants Look To Holiday Parties For Business Boost

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Restaurants and bars are still picking up the pieces after the COVID-19 pandemic shut business down for a while. The concern now: COVID cases and hospitalizations are going up in western Pennsylvania and across the state during the holiday season at a time when holiday parties are happening.

The staff at Sienna Mercato are getting the ice and oranges ready for a busy night of business. The assistant manager says they have four holiday parties scheduled for Friday evening. They say business isn't quite where it was before the pandemic, but it's getting there, especially when it comes to holiday parties.

"We aren't really back as to where we were before COVID, but we are getting a lot of parties booked through the December month and through the New Year's Eve party we are throwing," said Sienna Mercato Assistant Manager Manon Gilpatrick.

As for others like Len Semplice who owns Redbeard's on Sixth Street downtown and on Mt. Washington, he says getting those holiday parties booked have been few and far between.

"This year we are really down. We usually have about 20 parties a year. This year we only have two Christmas parties booked," said Semplice.

He blames the lack of bookings on the lack of people working downtown. Semplice says most of the holiday bookings come from big corporations who are still working remotely, however, he's trying to focus on the positive.

"Just take the losses and hopefully the beginning of the year is a whole lot different," said Semplice.

Some restaurant owners say it's business as usual when it comes to holiday celebrations.

"This year has bounced back to some of the same numbers we had pre-COVID," said David Regan, owner of Mullaney's Harp and Fiddle.

Regan thinks he's been lucky for two reasons: "We have really steady clientele that come here and celebrate their holidays before going to their families." He also mentioned the constant development in the Strip District.

Meantime, the assistant manager at Sienna Mercato says they're staying hopeful too.

"I'm hoping by next year everything goes back to the way it was," said Gilpatrick.

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