NEW YORK — Brandy's Piano Bar broke with tradition this year.

Instead of closing on Christmas, it was open, serving warm drinks and holiday tunes.

"Usually, it's one of the few days of the year that we close," manager Mario Davila said, "We're opening because we think people really need us right now."

It gave a couple a chance to go out for their first Christmas alone, together, in New York.

"It's great. Otherwise, we just would have been inside tonight doing what we've usually done," Allison Riley said. "So it's nice to do something a little bit special."

"And it feels a little bit more like a normal time," Spencer Borison said. "It feels like really the holidays, celebrating something with a little bit of music instead of just sitting around doing nothing."

"We want to do something that's joyful," said Lauren Mufson, who works at Brandy's. "The few people who want to come out, we want to welcome them."

"It's just so therapeutic, music," said Justin Gregory Lopez, another worker. "New York City, it's known for its music, it's known for its nightlife, and we're happy to keep trucking along during these times."

Restaurants have struggled under changing restrictions to stop the coronavirus from spreading. Currently, they can only offer outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery. And they must close by 10 p.m.

Still, with many families canceling big holiday get-togethers, some New Yorkers decided to celebrate at their go-to spots outdoors.

For Karen Chase and Larry Leighton, that meant Bocado on Lexington Avenue.

"Being locked in all day, it's a little bit when you can't be with your family. There's a sense of, I want to do something a little different," Leighton said, "and, as my wife said, we know this restaurant, we're happy to be here, get outside."

"And we support local businesses, we want to support them, we don't want to see them go under. We want to support them in a responsible way," Chase said.

It's regulars like Leighton and Chase that allowed Bocado to open this Christmas.

"It's very important," said Jose Rusiana, the manager of Bocado. "It's not the same before. It's just like we're opening because of the customers want us. We are providing for our communities, they always come to us."

"Right now, it's very different, but customers are still coming," Rusiana continued. "Customers are coming even though it's very cold."

Rusiana said his Christmas wish is that the pandemic will soon end, the restaurant survives, and they have a full house indoors next Christmas.


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