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Icy New Year's impacts businesses across the mountains

Hendersonville on Jan. 1, 2018. Frigid temperatures and dangerous road conditions put a damper on New Year’s Eve festivities, and the impacts were still being felt into the new year. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Frigid temperatures and dangerous road conditions put a damper on New Year’s Eve festivities, and the impacts were still being felt into the new year.

The Asheville Mall, worried about conditions as night fell, announced the mall would close early on Jan. 1, 2018.

“Everyone wants to get up and start the new year off right,” said Tommy Wright, a server at Mike’s on Main in Hendersonville.

But, the new year, got a four-hour late start at Mike’s on Main.

“We open at 7 a.m. and we weren't even open until 11 a.m.” Wright said.

Customers at Mike’s were glad to see ice in their cups, rather than on the road. Sunday's icy conditions left the stage for Hendersonville's Apple rising empty and businesses disappointed when the event was cancelled and rescheduled a year from now.

“It's disappointing because, me working downtown, I like to see growth downtown. And the only way for growth to happen downtown is for people to come downtown,” Wright said.

“For some people, it's the only night of the year they stay up that late,” said Matt Johnes, who is the owner of Hannah Flanagan’s on Main Street.

On a typical New Year's, it means more reservations for restaurants, including Hannah Flannigan's.

“We had a couple of reservations for groups that we ended up not seeing due to the weather," Johnes said.

The restaurant isn't crying over boxes of leftover Champagne from their annual New Year's toast, instead making the best of what was an unfortunate situation.

“We're going to have a good mimosa special with all of the leftovers,” Johnes explained.

“I slid under the overpass, over into the curb and rode that to where I could get to the corner and pull in,” said .

John Johnston of Tampa, Florida, found the best of a bad situation at the Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park after abandoning his car in a ditch.

“It's about two miles away because it couldn't make it up the hill because of the ice,” Johnston said.

While he booked a room, he says, the hotel stopped being a hotel and acted more like a Red Cross shelter.

“At one time, all of this area here was packed, people laying up on any couch you could get,” Johnston said.

The hotel creatively put-up 40 stranded families, without reservations, in hallways and ballrooms, doling out pillows, and blankets wherever needed.

“It was nice for Hilton to have done what they did to opening their doors to let people come in for shelter,” Johnston said.

The hotel was able to open its spa area for those needing a shower, and a good Samaritan bought more than $500 worth of snacks from their hotel store to pass out to those stranded. The hotel also provided guests with drinks and other necessities. They say it was mostly local families who became stranded on icy roads and couldn’t make it back home.

For the restaurants, the impact is a little greater because of the perishable food they ordered. Last night's poor road conditions will certainly hurt if those supplies perish before they can be used.

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