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Bars, restaurants want New Year’s do-over after bomb scare

New Year Lexington downtown.jpg
Posted at 4:22 PM, Jan 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-01 16:22:18-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Bars and restaurants in one Kentucky city are planning a do-over of New Year’s Eve after a bomb scare caused police to evacuate a chunk of the downtown business district just as revelers were settling in.

Debbie Long, who owns the restaurant Dudley’s on Short, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that her place was fully booked Thursday night, and she had just texted someone to say they were going to be able to make rent and be on good footing for the new year when the call came to evacuate, shortly after 8 p.m.

Lexington police later said they had spotted a suspicious RV in a parking lot on the next block, and an explosives-sniffing police dog signaled an alert. Although it eventually turned out to be a false alarm, police weren’t taking any chances after the Christmas Day bombing by a man in an RV in downtown Nashville.

People poured out of bars and restaurants, hotels and apartments as police blocked off a 24-block area in the heart of downtown for about two hours.

“We left food on the table. Candles burning. Coats hanging,” Long said. They helped one couple, in their 80s, call someone to come get them because they couldn’t move their car.

Between pandemic shutdowns and capacity limits, restaurants and bars struggled to stay in business throughout 2020. But New Year’s Eve, with a vaccine finally at hand, had looked a like a bright spot. Now restaurant and bar owners are hoping a “do-over” will make up for some of that lost revenue.

At ELIXIR Downtown, owner Stephen Scaldaferri said seating for a special meal was sold out and people were enjoying themselves.

“This would have truly been the first night since COVID that we would not have lost money,” he said.

Scaldaferri said he planned a “New Year’s Eve do-over” Friday night to celebrate making it into 2021. And by 10 a.m. on New Year’s Day he’d already had about 30 tables committed to coming back.

Other Lexington restaurants, including Distilled on Jefferson, also were planning to offer repeats on Friday and Saturday of special dinners that got cut short, and bars were leaving holiday decorations up so the party could go on through the weekend. Bluegrass Tavern planned to offer beer and champagne specials on Saturday night.

Long said she plans to offer her special New Year’s Eve dinner on Saturday. “We’ve still got all the food,” she said. The dinner will include the same three-course gourmet meal, at a slightly reduced rate, $65.

She said at least one customer had called wanting to pay for the meal that was cut short.

“So sweet,” Long said. “In times like this, you really see the best in people.”