SALEM — The bewitching hour in the Witch City will be 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.
For the second year in a row, a city that has become known for restaurants and nightlife has extended its closing hour on Dec. 31.
“It was sort of a pilot program (last year), and we didn’t have any problems,” said Licensing Board Chairman Robert St. Pierre. “That’s why there was no reluctance to extend it this year.”
Surrounding communities also have later closing hours on New Year’s Eve. Peabody and Lynn extended closing time to 2 a.m., and Marblehead added an hour, going from midnight to 1 a.m. Danvers and Beverly have their regular 1 a.m. closings.
Even though Salem businesses have an extra hour, not every liquor license holder plans to take advantage of the later closing.
“We used to do it years ago, but not recently,” said John Bertini, owner of Bertini’s restaurant on Canal Street. “Our crowd is getting older.”
The Hawthorne Hotel also plans to stick to the 1 a.m. closing.
Not everyone, it turns out, was even aware the Licensing Board had approved a 2 a.m. closing.
“I didn’t hear that,” said Steve Feldmann, owner of Gulu-Gulu Cafe, one of the most popular downtown hangouts. “That’s good news. ... I think it’s great to stay open until 2 on New Year’s Eve. It makes sense.”
Gulu-Gulu got the news late last year, as well.
“Last year, we did stay open to 2,” Feldmann said. “However, it was so last-minute when we found out, it was really difficult to promote.”
St. Pierre, who is the former police chief, said the board granted the 2 a.m. closing last year after one license-holder made the request. In an attempt to be fair, he said they extended the ruling to everyone.