In the East Bay, restaurants would normally spend their day preparing for big New Year’s crowds, but this year they’re spending it trying to find ways to be part of the safe at home holiday.
Chef Mark Lieberman, owner of Mago in Oakland, didn’t expect to be preparing hundreds of takeout meals for New Year’s Eve, but in 2020, this is his reality.
“Honestly it’s really hard for us, we’re doing a six-course tasting menu,” said Lieberman. “It takes time to deal with extra steps for the guests.”
Mago is one of many restaurants in Oakland under orders limiting them to takeout and delivery only.
Outdoor dining isn’t allowed due to the current regional shelter in place order. So Lieberman is working with his only option.
“This is usually our favorite time of year to take care of guests and make people feel special,” said Britt Petersen, manager of The Wolf in Oakland. “It’s been pretty quiet in the walls of the restaurant here.”
Petersen said the restaurant is usually bustling on New Year’s Eve. Instead, customers like William Dyson are trying to offer a little hope to his favorite eateries for the holiday.
“I think we need to support local restaurants and I think the government should’ve given them funds to stay open,” Dyson said.
Without the usual public diversions, Oakland police are asking people to celebrate safely, meaning skip the fireworks and firearms.
As for the restaurants, they’re facing uncertain futures. But if 2020 has taught them anything, there’s only so much they can control.
“We’re just going to try to put out really good food and have a good time while doing it,” Lieberman said.
Both of the restaurants will temporarily close operations in January and reopen when the shelter in place is lifted.