INDIANAPOLIS — Bars and restaurants are gearing up for big crowds, private parties and plenty of champagne toasts across the city. This is a critical time for local businesses as it comes right before a typical slowdown in January and February.

”We have been pretty busy every single day,” said Caleb Yeknich, a manager at HopCat in Broad Ripple. Yeknich said the holiday has treated them well with most people being off work.

The same can be said for Luke Basile and Union Jack right down Broad Ripple Ave.

”The holidays tend to be pretty busy for us, a lot of people still off work,” Basile said.

The more business the better always applies but especially so right now – on the horizon are much slower days.

” It’s cold, they don’t want to go out so you really want to get as much business as you can in December,” Yeknich said.

New Years’ Eve landing on a Saturday is perfect for maximizing customers and different bars take different approaches.

For Union Jack, they’re shutting down for a ticketed event to ring in the new year with London.

”We all toast at the English midnight and we’ll shut it down a little bit earlier so we’re not open for the late-night bar craziness of New Year’s Eve,” Basile said.

HopCat is open to everyone like any normal night, Yeknich said they do that to make sure no one is denied, especially the after-show crowd from the nearby Vogue Theatre.

”Just being able to accommodate anyone and everyone from those shows, that’s a lot of traffic, so we don’t want to alienate them by saying they have to pay a $30 fee or something like that just to get in,” Yeknich said.

With the end of 2022 upon us, restaurants and bars are trying to put even more space between themselves and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yeknich said they’ve recovered nicely and built their staff back up.

”After having some struggles with it over the summer, having a full staffed building is really nice to see and a fully staffed management staff as well,” he said.

Patrick Tamm with the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association said recovery has been strong.

Indy was able to bounce back quicker than most thanks to it being a great convention city.

For this time of year, Tamm said it’s important to think about the people behind the business, too.

”For a lot of central Indiana servers, bartenders, this is a big time of year where they really need those additional dollars,” Tamm said.

Going into 2023, Tamm said innovation and flexibility will continue to be what helps restaurants recover and thrive.

”Fine dining restaurants never thought carry out or third party delivery would ever make sense and they do it now,” he said.

If you’re going to be hitting the town for New Year’s Eva this weekend make sure to plan ahead – a lot of the usual bars and restaurants might be doing private events where you would need a ticket. But there will be plenty of others like at HopCat, that will be operating more like normal.