Social distancing into the New Year with some local restaurants

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For a large majority of people, 2020 wasn’t their year. This may be why most are tiptoeing into 2021 rather than diving head-first. With the threat of the pandemic lingering into the new year, folks are eager to leave 2020 in the past, but hesitant to embrace 2021 with open arms.

However, New Year’s Eve is still worth celebrating, albeit a bit differently than past years. Many restaurants are offering socially-distant events to those looking to end the year with a bang. Additionally, there’s a selection of virtual events and take-home offers for those hesitant to join a public gathering. 

Of course, if you do choose to leave the house, do so responsibly. Social distancing defined 2020, so maintaining that six-foot separation may be the best way to pay homage to this crazy year.

Copper Door in Bedford is offering a special prix-fixe menu from 4  to 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve with live music from 6-9 p.m. Guests can choose from a two-course, three-course and four-course meal. Main courses include Sesame Crusted Tuna with Vegetable Fried Rice, Haricot Verts and Ponzu, and Braised Lamb Shank with Risotto, Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Gremolata. Reservations are highly recommended.

The Derryfield Restaurant will ring-in the new year with live music from vocalist Jonny Friday; 9 p.m..- 12:30 a.m. Relax with a drink, and wish good riddance to 2020 at this popular spot.

A perennial favorite, the Wild Rover Pub in downtown Manchester will ring in the new year with a complimentary champagne pour at midnight. Their New Year’s Eve celebration begins at 9 p.m., and is guaranteed to be an enjoyable time. Bring your mask and soak up the suds while watching the ball drop.

Just a few blocks away, the Shaskeen will be hosting a similar event, with a complimentary champagne toast at midnight and a celebratory atmosphere.

For those looking to venture outside the city, The Averill House Vineyard in Brookline is offering a five-course Brazillian dinner with wine pairings in their restored barn dating back to the 1830s. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.and concludes at 9 p.m. (The new year; Brazillian time). A tour of the winery and cellar is included. Find tickets at

For something a bit different, Chunky’s Cinema Pub (Manchester location) is holding two comedy events; at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Headliners include Drew Dunn, Judy Sloane and Paul Landwehr. B. Pub food and cocktails will be available for purchase, and the later event includes a countdown to the new year and a complimentary champagne toast. 

Looking to exit 2020 on a tranquil note? Free Meditation is hosting a virtual Zoom meditation session from 9:45-10:45 p.m. Organized by the Sahaja Yoga online meditation group, Free Meditation is a group of Sahaja yoga practitioners seeking to share the healing properties of meditation with the world. Find more info at 

Boards and Brews, Manchester’s original board game cafe, may not be open for in-house gaming, but their new retail store has all the essentials of a fun night in. Rent a board game, pick up dome beer and wine or snag some house-made syrups and cocktail mixers from their “potion emporium.” Orders can be placed online through their website. They’re closed on New Year’s Eve so be sure to stop by soon.

As an alternative to the traditional New Year’s Day brunch, Firefly American Bistro & Bar is selling take-home brunch kits. The mimosa kit features prosecco, wine glasses, assorted fruit, juices and muffins; while the bloody mary kit includes house mix, hot sauces, assorted pickles, peppers and olives and pint glasses. Order online at

Looking for a sweet ending to a bitter year? Ben & Jerry’s is open until 10:30 p.m. New Year’s Eve for walk-in business, take-out, and curbside pickup. Staff will do deliveries for anything on the menu ($10 minimum order) and deliver anywhere in the Manchester zip codes as well as 15 minutes from theirMtheir shop on Elm Street.  You can also get delivery on Door Dash, Grub Hub and Ubereats.

In addition to the celebrations, many local restaurants will be open during their normal hours on both the 31st and the 1st, including Buba Noodle Bar, Campo Enoteca, New England’s Tap House Grille, Diz’s Cafe, Mint Bistro, XO on Elm, to name a few. It’s always best to call for availability before arriving. You can access our pandemic Restaurant Guide here to help narrow your search.

Is your restaurant/bar offering something special for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day? Let us know and we’ll add you to the list. Send to

Nicholas VonSchantz-Ricci is a freelance writer and foodie from Manchester. Reach him at

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