Restaurants Expect 100 Million Customers For New Year's

12/14/2011 05:07 pm ET

Most holidays have some kind of homey family tradition at their core -- think of Fourth of July barbecues, opening presents from under the Christmas tree and Sunday brunch on Mother's Day. But not New Year's! That's one that's all about revelry -- so it's no surprise to hear that a lot of Americans are planning on eating and drinking away from home. But how many exactly?

According to a recent study from Nation's Restaurant News, a total of 100 million. That's a full one in three Americans, if you include the very young and old. The publication arrived at that number after conducting a survey of adults, 44% of whom said they had plans to eat or drink comestibles from a restaurant, split almost evenly between take-out or dine-in. Another 28% noted their plans to eat out the following day. (If our past New Year's Days are any indication, we expect that to entail a lot of delivery Thai and Indian.) These figures are much higher than their equivalents for Christmas; just 10% said they had plans to eat out on Christmas Eve, and only 6% said they'd do so on Christmas itself. And both those figures are much higher than the 14 million Americans (less than 5%) who ate out on Thanksgiving.

We understand the temptation to eat out on this day of fun, but be warned: New Year's is not a day for prime eating at many restaurants. Like Valentine's Day, it's a time when cooks are unhappy to be stuck in a hot kitchen, much less to have to feed tons of drunk, rowdy patrons. Though they do get their own sort of revenge: many restaurants offer New Year's diners expensive, but limited-choice, prix-fixe meals rather than their normal menus.