Up until about 3 weeks ago, Sean Hayden’s restaurant Valerie on West 45th Street, just a few blocks from Times Square, was temporarily on lockdown after staffers tested positive for COVID-19.

“It was disheartening because it happened so fast, you didn’t have time to think about it. First, it was corporate parties started to cancel,” said Hayden, the owner of Valerie restaurant.  

“Next thing, one staff member gets sick. Next thing, it's two, three, and then before you know it, we have eight or 10 people out,” he continued.

The restaurant’s doors just reopening on Monday. Hayden said his staff is now back at 100%, just in time for New Year eve celebrations.  

“We follow all the guidelines. We follow the CDC guidelines, we follow the Health Department guidelines. Everybody that comes in has to be vaccinated, all our staff is vaccinated,” Hayden said.

Despite having a few cancellations for the restaurant’s New Year's Eve event, Hayden said spots filled up quickly and anticipates the celebration to go off without a hitch. Hana Belcher just got in town from Florida and said that’s exactly what she’s looking forward to most.  

“I can’t wait to be around people. I’m excited for sure,” Belcher said.

Hayden said he’s optimistic about the impact Mayor-elect Adams’ administration will have in the new year.

“Time will tell. I like what he says. I think he’s very positive on crime and getting the city back safe and he understands the restaurants are the soul of the city,” Hayden said

He’s hoping business continues as usual.

“We can’t afford to have people out of work again in all sectors,” Hayden said. "You see what happened with the airline mayhem over the holidays. You see what’s happening over the FDNY and EMS. People have to get back to work."