SALEM — For the first time in several years, the Witch City will stay open until 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve.
The Licensing Board voted to extend the New Year's Eve closing by one hour at its meeting Monday night. The board took the action after getting a request from the Knights of Columbus.
"I didn't see a major issue with it," said Chairman Robert St. Pierre, the retired police chief. "But if we were going to do it for the (Knights), we had to do it across the board."
The late curfew applies to restaurants and clubs with liquor licenses.
Although Salem hasn't had a 2 a.m. New Year's Eve closing for a few years, it's routine around the state, according to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. For Salem, it comes at a time when the downtown is bustling with new restaurants.
Locally, Peabody and Danvers are also open until 2 a.m. on New Year's. Beverly, however, will shut down at 1 a.m. as usual.
License holders in Salem had a mixed reaction to the news.
"Sure, why not?" said Steve Feldmann, the owner of Gulu-Gulu Cafe. "People are here, they do want to celebrate, and you don't want to push them out the door."
Mark Morris, co-owner of Tavern in the Square, said they plan to stay open until 2 a.m., but not necessarily for financial reasons.
"We'll be taking advantage of it," he said. "In the end, it doesn't mean much for business. It just gives us another hour to clear everybody out and clean everything up."
John Bertini, the owner of Bertini's restaurant, a Canal Street landmark for more than 60 years, said he expects to close earlier.
"Probably won't affect me," he said.