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Long Island businesses expect big New Year's

Kathleen Donish, general manager at Harbor Crab Co.

Kathleen Donish, general manager at Harbor Crab Co. in Patchogue, takes reservations on Friday. The restaurant is one of several business in the village expected to benefit from the annual "Midnight on Main" New Year's Eve event. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Pour the bubbly and grab the noisemakers — Long Island plans to close out 2018 with a bang.

New Year’s Eve is expected to be among the busiest nights of the year for many in the food, drink, entertainment and transportation industries.

This year, the holiday falls on a Monday, typically a slower night. But business owners say the strong economy, the popularity of ride-sharing companies and the opportunity to use the weekend to prepare could result in a party for the ages.

“Every year, the celebration becomes bigger and better,” said Brittany Palillo, marketing manager at Coral House in Baldwin. “It’s by far one of the biggest nights of the year.”

The event venue will host a party of more than 1,000 people for its fancy end-of-year bash. About 100 employees will work on the night of the celebration, which is in its eighth year.

Despite drops in the stock market, a federal government shutdown and a housing market predicted to soften in some areas, New Year’s Eve entertainment spending and restaurant bookings seem to be strong.

Michael Bohlsen, who with his brother, Kurt, owns Prime in Huntington, Tellers and Verace in Islip, Monsoon in Babylon and H2O in Smithtown and East Islip, said he hasn’t seen the effect of any economic anxiety among his clientele thus far and expects the dining rooms to be packed.

“New Year's Eve is always a last-minute push for us,” Bohlsen said.

The biggest change to his New Year’s Eve business has been the rise of ride-share companies. “With Uber, it’s safer for everyone. Last year I remember I went to one of our restaurants at 10 p.m., the parking lot was half empty but the dining room was packed.”

In Patchogue, an annual “Midnight on Main” New Year’s Eve event, now in its fourth year, has outgrown its old location and is moving to a new site, Mayor Paul Pontieri said.

The village is preparing for up to 5,000 people to fill the intersection of West and West Main streets, near the recently opened Blue Point Brewing Co. plant, Pontieri said. Up to 3,000 people have filled an area near the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts in recent years, spurring the change, he said.

Instead of a ball drop, a ball is raised on a pole to signify the imminent advent of a new year. The earlier time allows families to bring their children, and ship them off to bed at a reasonable hour, organizers said.

The ceremony "has helped every business on Main Street tremendously,” John Peragine, who co-owns PeraBell Food Bar in Patchogue. 

In Nassau, one of the biggest crowds will come to see The Piano Man in Uniondale. 

Billy Joel is making a rare Long Island appearance at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. He will play before a sold-out crowd of 15,000 celebrating the 25th anniversary of his last New Year's Eve concert at the Coliseum.

 At Sparkling Pointe, a vineyard in Southold that produces sparkling wine exclusively, general manager Michael Falcetta said he recognizes “the celebratory nature” of their product and will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday for flights, tastings and sales.

“Many others in the industry make a sparkling wine but we are the only ones dedicated to this method,” Falcetta said.

The 40-acre vineyard, opened in 2009 by owners Cynthia and Tom Rosicki, produced 8,000 cases this year, up from 2,000 in their first season.

Beer sales too are expected to be steady through the weekend and into Monday.

Mike Boufis, co-owner of Bullseye Beverage, a beer distributor in Smithtown, said he thinks lots of people deciding to stay in are hosting house parties.

The number of buyers in his store of 1,400 different types of beer are leaving with multiple cases, he said.

“The holiday is falling at a good time because it's extending the weekend," he said.

Also, family-friendly celebrations are on the rise on Long Island.

At the Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City, the “Count down to 12!” event began in 2005 and has become the museum’s highest volume day of the year, said Maureen Mangan, director of communications and marketing.

About 2,600 people — some museum members and others buying general admission tickets — will come to the museum for ball drops at noon and 4 p.m. The venue will raise about $18,000 in admission revenue, not including gift shop and food sales.

Mangan said while the events are intended for children, tired parents say they often don’t make it to midnight either.

“We like the idea that we have helped create a family tradition for the Island,” Mangan said.

Meanwhile, local theater owners expect a busy day Monday.

Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre has sold out its 120 tickets for its annual New Year’s Eve party, which includes a screening followed by snacks, cake, Champagne and a chance to watch the Times Square ball drop on a big screen in the theater’s Sky Room Café.

“We try to have all the movies done before midnight,” says Dylan Skolnick, the theater’s co-director. “Most people don’t want to have New Year’s Eve slip by while they’re two-thirds of the way through ‘The Favourite’ or something.”

With Daysi Calavita-Robertson, Matthew Chayes, Glenn Gamboa, Rafer Guzman, Corin Hirsch, Erica Marcus and Carl MacGowan.  

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