NYE in SF: all out or on a budget

December 31, 2008 7:16:06 PM PST
Tonight marks the end of a turbulent year. For others, it brings hope of a better year ahead. What people are doing tonight is a reflection of that.

It has been a mad scramble at San Francisco's twin waterfront restaurants to prepare for 1,500 New Year's Eve guests.

The Waterbar and Epic Roasthouse have a heated tent to watch the fireworks and 2,000 chilled bottles of champagne, all for a $185 tab.

"We're happy that people are going to come out and celebrate New Year's Eve, and I think given the economic times, what better way than go out and celebrate, have a good time," the restaurants' managing director Pete Sittnick said.

Up on Nob Hill, the Fairmont is gearing up to feed more than 500 guests in three separate rooms, including the crown room; the price is $325 per person.

The pastry kitchen has some special desserts planned.

"Most every dessert coming out tonight goes well with champagne, and some have champagne in them," executive pastry chef Jason Etzkin said.

They are rolling out the red carpet at City Hall for 3,000 guests. A few tickets are available at $200 for this charity fundraiser.

"We have literally hundreds of people working tonight. In this economy, when there's people out of jobs and we're able to employ 100, 200 people, maybe have made their year, maybe have made their rent; to me, that's what made this all worthwhile," event producer and DJ Donovan said.

However, some people are planning to spend far less tonight.

"My fiance and I, we're just going to come down and walk the Embarcadero and hang out, watch the fireworks, that's as free as it gets, right," San Francisco resident Lukasz Pason said.

Home-cooked meals are also in before going out.

"I'm actually making some food first; pork chops, steak, some egg rolls," San Francisco visitor Mark Mangoba said.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating New Year's Eve on a budget.

"We may be down right now, but it doesn't matter, we still have each other," Pason said.