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New Year's Eve Forecast

December 19, 2001, 12:00 AM EST

By Jill Musguire

The special event industry is planning for what is traditionally one of the biggest party nights of the year--New Year's Eve. While many restaurants, clubs and bars, are going ahead with typical celebrations open to customers off the street, private parties are not as popular as in years past.

“Plans started hopefully in August, and ended up quite differently,” says Lee Blumer, an account executive at the Manhattan Center. “Everything is tentative now.” Blumer believes this is a combination of a depressed economy and many people's concerns about security and their personal desire to stay close to home on the holiday. The Manhattan Center usually hosts large-scale parties on New Year's Eve, but no clients for this year were confirmed on Monday.

Both Metropolitan Pavilion and Fressen have booked private parties, but most of the people at New York venues we spoke to reported they were hosting people off the street--or no one at all.

Many of the city's restaurants are offering dinner and dancing packages or a prix fixe menu. Among the big to-dos are the Russian Tea Room's four floors of partying, with live performances by fire-eaters, stiltwalkers and sword swallowers. Tavern on the Green's annual gala has a patriotic theme with 750,000 red, white and blue lights in the restaurant's London plane trees, and patriotic noisemakers, streamers and headwear, plus Joe Battaglia's 17-piece New York Big Band.

The Rainbow Room, Rainbow Grill and Le Cirque 2000 are hosting black-tie discos after gourmet dinners. Daniel Boulud's restaurants, Daniel, Caf? Boulud and DB Bistro Moderne are all offering diners four- and five-course dinners, and cabaret performer Christine Andreas will perform in Daniel's Bellecour Room.

Danny Meyer's Eleven Madison Park will be closed on New Year's Eve, as it has been in years past, which Gabriella Chiaravalle, the restaurant's private dining manager, says felt especially appropriate this year. “People want to have a relaxing evening and not blow the roof off anywhere,” she told us. Gramercy Tavern (another Meyer restaurant) and 21 Club will also be closed.

Other venues are serving their regular fare without any ballyhoo. The Plaza Hotel Restaurant and Felidia are serving their regular menus, while Man Ray and Sardi's are offering prix fixe menus.

Many lounges and clubs will have the typical array of New Year's props, with DJs and dancing. Lot 61 is hosting a bash in conjunction with its Friday night promoters. Lotus expects a crowd of 600 to 800 for its five-course dinner followed by a dance party. Bubble Lounge, Eugene, Spa and Flute are hosting public parties, while Go has rented out its space for a private event. Tao is entertaining guests with dancing, performance art and party favors.

Some hotels are offering special rates and party packages for the night. The new W New York-Times Square is offering a party package that includes entrance and entertainment at the Whiskey and Blue Fin. The Carlyle Hotel's restaurant is hosting a dinner and dance with the Peter Duchin Orchestra, while the hotel's Caf? Caryle will host a performance by cabaret master Bobby Short.

Posted 12.19.01

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