New Year's Eve at the Octopus in Tel Aviv Dec. 31, 2010 (Gilad Mashiah)
New Year's Eve at the Octopus in Tel Aviv. Photo by Gilad Mashiah
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The country's bars and restaurants finished 2010 on a high note, reporting revenues that beat expectations as revelers headed out to celebrate Friday night, despite the rain.

About 300,000 people ventured out to restaurants, bars, nightclubs and coffee shops in Tel Aviv - about 50% more than the average Friday night.

"Venues were at the maximum capacity permitted by law, and turnover of patrons was also very high. Revenues were 30% to 40% higher than on an average Friday," said Ronen Miley, head of the Israeli Bar and Nightclub Association.

The Tel Aviv district police said they shut 15 convenience stores and nightclubs for violations such as selling alcohol to minors, selling alcohol after hours and letting too many partygoers inside.

One of the owners of the Octopus club in the Tel Aviv Port said 2,000 people showed up even though the venue can accommodate only 1,200. The owners pocketed a handsome NIS 90,000 by charging for admission, not to mention food and drink sales.

Beverage importer and distributor Scottish Trading & Marketing Co. said it had been working overtime to keep stores stocked before the holiday, an indicator that many people were throwing private parties instead of going out - a change from years past.

Beverage sales were up 20% compared to last year, said CEO Dan Lior. "In the four days leading up to the holiday, we worked double shifts to keep stores stocked after they sold out their initial orders," he said.

Lior noted that many kosher establishments - mostly hotels - also hosted festivities this year, even though the holiday is not a religious one and happened to fall on Shabbat.

Food delivery companies also reported excellent sales during the New Year holiday, possibly because the rainy weather led many people to stay home and order in food. Domino's reported sales of 10,000 pizzas, 45% more than on an average Friday night.

"There were two waves of orders - the peak was a bit before midnight, and then there was another wave in the early morning, which isn't standard," said CEO Yossi Elbaz. "Apparently people were coming home hungry from their parties."

The Mishloha food delivery website also reported a wave of sales yesterday morning, including a lot of traditional Shabbat foods like cholent and jachnun, said CEO Daniel Rahamim. Sales were up 30% compared to an average day, he said.