Eatery gets ready for Christmas amid COVID restrictions
NEWARK, Del. (AP) — Gianmarco Martuscelli is trying to stay positive about the statewide restaurant indoor dining restrictions coming Monday that will diminish seating.
You could say, he looked around his Klondike Kate’s Restaurant & Saloon in downtown Newark and thought: “We need a little Christmas. Right this very minute.”
If not, at least the lyrics of the popular Christmas song from Jerry Herman’s Broadway musical “Mame” are certainly fitting this year.
On Monday, Martuscelli is closing Kate’s for the day to transform the entire building into a Christmas explosion. When it reopens Tuesday, customers will enter a winter wonderland.
It’s an expansion on The Sleigh Bar, last year’s holiday themed pop-up Christmas bar at the 158 E. Main St. restaurant.
Holiday pop-up bars gained popularity about six years ago in New York and Los Angeles. They combine over-the-top Christmas decorations with seasonal music and holiday-themed drinks.
The first one in Delaware was Blitzen, a seasonal Christmas bar at 220 W. Ninth St. in downtown Wilmington. It recently reopened for its second season with even more decorations than last year.
Martuscelli, like most of the owners of Delaware’s estimated 1,900 food and drinking establishments, is worried about new state mandates beginning Monday that will limit indoor dining capacity to only 30%. Gov. John Carney ordered the restrictions to combat a surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the state.
The Delaware Restaurant Association has estimated more than 40 percent of the state’s restaurants could close because of the limited indoor dining allowed.
“Even with Gov. Carney’s announcement, we decided people still need something positive to come out and do or see for the holidays,” said Martuscelli, whose family owns Kate’s, La Casa Pasta in Glasgow and the Chesapeake Inn Restaurant & Marina in Chesapeake City, Maryland.
The upcoming holiday season is traditionally one of the most profitable for restaurant owners. The day before Thanksgiving is widely considered the most popular bar night of the year.
Martuscelli said he decided to decorate and use the entire space in Klondike Kate’s, including its space on the second floor, to make the 30% work for his business.
He plans to have a soft opening of the new Christmas look on Tuesday and is planning holiday-themed events at the restaurant throughout December.
Customers who contribute to Toys-for-Tots will receive complimentary hot chocolate and a cookie for every gift donated. Every Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m, Santa Claus will be in the restaurant to pose for family portraits.
The 12 Days of Christmas will be celebrated at Klondike Kate’s from Dec. 12 to Dec. 24.