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Many eateries to be closed on Christmas

December 20, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

Too tired from the holiday rush to cook Christmas dinner?

If you're looking to eat out, your options will be limited. An informal survey of area restaurants, excluding chains and fast-food establishments, showed most will be closed all day.

"The only place I know that's gonna be open is the Waffle House," said Sherry Sechler, guest services manager at the Holiday Inn in Martinsburg, W.Va., home of Heatherfields Restaurant.

For 17 years, Four Points Sheraton hotel owner Nick Giannaris offered a free Christmas dinner to people who are poor or alone for the holiday, but citing health concerns, Giannaris announced earlier this month that he no longer would be hosting the dinner. The Sheraton's restaurants won't be open that day.

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A group of local doctors will be serving meals for those who are needy or alone from 1 to 4 p.m. Christmas Eve at Robinwood Medical Center. For more information, call the hospital's development office at 301-790-8631.

Bethel Assembly of God also will pick up some of the slack by serving Christmas dinners again this year. Spokesman Kevin Aveni said the church at 515 E. Wilson Boulevard in Hagerstown will be serving from noon until 3 p.m. Christmas Day. Last year, the church served about 200, Aveni said. This year he already has heard from people who previously had their Christmas dinners with Nick.

"It could be a very huge thing going on," he said.

The church is preparing for 300 to 500, Aveni said.

"We have not really advertised this because we don't want to be totally flooded."

For those who just don't want to cook, the best bet is a hotel restaurant. Several in West Virginia, including the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown, the Hilltop House in Harpers Ferry and the Inn and Spa at Berkeley Springs, formerly known as the Country Inn, are offering special holiday menus.

All will be limiting their hours, however. The Bavarian Inn will be serving between noon and 7 p.m.; Hilltop House will offer a buffet from 11: 30 to 5 p.m. and the Inn and Spa's restaurant will open at noon with its last seating at 4 p.m.

But even for hotels, serving Christmas dinner is becoming a remnant of Christmases past. The Fireside Restaurant at the Plaza Inn in Halfway, for example, started closing for Christmas a few years ago, according to Executive Chef Jimmy Waymire.

"Basically business is just down," Waymire said. "It's not worth it to open up and pay the staff. Hotel occupancy is just low because most people are home with their families."

But all is not lost.

According to a sign at the restaurant, Denny's on Dual Highway will be open Christmas Day until 3 p.m.

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