MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The night before Thanksgiving is typically a busy night for bars and restaurants, but this year, they’re welcoming people back after not having business for two years during the pandemic.

In downtown Milford, the Thanksgiving celebrations started Wednesday evening. 

“[It’s the] biggest drinking holiday of the year,” said Kaille Oakes, of Milford. “Blow off some steam at the end of the short work week, come out for some drinks and apps, and celebrate the start of the holiday season.”

At Founders House Pub and Patio on South Broad Street, the packed house was a welcome sight after the last two holidays were less busy.
“We’re doing a lot more,” said Michael Stoto, a manager at the pub. “People want to go out, they’ve been trying to get out, do different stuff. It’s really good for us, definitely better than last year and the year before.”

The business had more than 500 reservations scheduled between Wednesday night and Thanksgiving Day.

“It means a lot to us,” Stoto said. “People are spending their hard-earned money. They are coming in on Thanksgiving, we want to give them the best experience.” 

Down the street, the late-night crowd was at My Bar & Grill. The owners said the business would be packed until closing time at 1 a.m. 

The owners, Karen and Tom Langrieger, said their regulars kept them afloat throughout the pandemic. On Wednesday night, they welcomed new faces and promised to treat them like family. 

“We come in here and it’s just like family, just like Cheers back in Boston or something like that. Everybody knows everybody’s name,” Karen Langrieger said. “If they feel they can’t get home safely, we’ll get an Uber and if we can’t, Tom or I will usually bring them home. That’s how we feel about our guests and their safety.”