Old Town restaurant

EVO owner Rick Neuman said his Old Town restaurant offers a friendly, calm atmosphere to welcome the new year.

While New Year’s Eve festivities were largely scaled back a year ago, there’s little uncertainty this month among Scottsdale restaurants and hotels as they prepare to ring in 2022.

Restaurants and hotels are eager to bring back elements of pre-pandemic New Year’s Eve celebrations while offering new experiences. 

“I feel like everybody is at a point where they’re ready to get back to a normal environment and put this past year behind them,” said Nick Neuman, the owner of EVO in OldTown. “I’m looking forward to inching back to the way things used to be and being able to relax and breathe a bit more.” 

With plans to stick with his signature four-course dinner on New Year’s Eve, Neuman is excited that nearly 100 guests who stayed home last year are returning, bringing the number of guests to north of 400.

Roaring Fork is preparing for at least 280 guests on New Year’s Eve by offering its regular menu a la carte in addition to a steak and lobster dinner option. 

“The thing that differentiates our restaurant from others on New Year’s Eve is that we offer our regular menu a la carte in addition to the Steak & Lobster promotion,” said Roaring Fork’s general manager Matt Sevigny. “We don’t offer any pre-fixed menu for a price per person so that our dining patrons can enjoy their favorites and our house specialties on New Year’s Eve as well.”

After selling out last year’s bowling lanes, Mavrix has expanded its experience for this year’s festivities. 

“Last year we only sold lanes as packages of two to reduce the amount of interaction between guests. Now we are selling individual lane packages,” said JP Mullan, the COO at Octane Entertainment, which owns Mavrix. 

“We sold out of the lane packages right away last year, so we added Trophy Room booth packages for 2021,” Mullan added. “We also added an earlier 6:30 p.m. package for families to experience a NYE celebration with an 8 p.m. ball drop.”

ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho and Hearth ’61 at Mountain Shadows are eager to open doors on an expected 200 patrons that are expected to partake in more dancing and mingling than last year. 

“Last year, while we had a full house, it was much more restricted,” said ZuZu executive chef Russell LaCasce. “We still offered live music and amazing food, but guests were restricted from leaving their table to dance or mingle.”

LaCasce is excited about entertaining guests this year as he feels that his restaurant offers a spacious and unique way to celebrate the turning of the calendar. 

“We have a well-spaced and flexible layout; we can move tables around to accommodate the musicians and the dance area, and we offer an indoor-outdoor space for our guests,” he said. 

LaCasce is not the only person who feels that their establishment offers an ideal place to watch the ball drop. 

“With the restaurant situated right next to our bar, it allows for the party to continue after dinner with great ease,” said Hearth ‘61 food & beverage manager Jim Gallen. 

Neuman, on the other hand, feels that his restaurant will offer a calmer way to round out 2021. 

“We have a ton of guests that frequent us because of the friendly neighborhood vibe we offer,” he said. “We have guests who come every year for New Year’s Eve to see their friends again and relax without having to go over the top.” 

However, what could be the most exclusive party this New Year’s Eve is the celebration planned for Canopy Scottsdale. 

“We’ve limited entry this year exclusively to registered hotel guests to help maintain that relaxed vibe intrinsic to our rooftop,” said Canopy Scottsdale general manager and chief enthusiast Devin Mahoney. “Similar to our normal operating hours, we do not accept reservations and will hold the door once capacity is reached.” 

While this year’s celebration will be more intimate than last year’s, Mahoney is looking forward to seeing more guests as the clock nears midnight. 

“As the clock grows closer to midnight, the spirit of the hotel will be bursting with excitement of having the best views of the Valley’s firework shows at Outrider Rooftop Lounge – perched atop of the hotel’s seventh floor,” he said. 

Ditto for Gallen, who said, “The staff is typically excited for New Year’s Eve. We jokingly refer to this night as our ‘Super Bowl.’”

The morale is the same at ZuZu. 

“We encourage our staff to celebrate with us by dressing up and enjoying the atmosphere, which in turn allows our guests to have fun, too,” said LaCasce. 

Overall, spirits look high and these restaurants hope to create a fun experience that will kick off 2022 the right way. 

“We hope that our guests enjoy a pleasant dining experience that is relaxing and a true celebration of the coming year,” Sevigny said. 

“I hope our guests feel that celebrating at Hearth ’61 made the holiday exactly what they wanted it to be and that they leave with fond memories of welcoming 2022 with us,” said Gallen.