At 10 a.m. on Christmas Day, Marty Manjean, of Lake Parsippany, will be where he was Thursday night: sitting at the bar of Hoover's Tavern.
He'll spend the earlier part of the morning home with his daughter, who's 18, but once the presents are opened, she has other plans.
"She does her own thing now. She has a boyfriend. and most of my family's far away,'' said Manjean, a regular of the Tabor Road bar. "That's why I come here. This is my family.''
Christmas at a bar is not everyone's idea of good cheer, but business is brisk that day, say tavern owners. And it's not just your stereotypical drowining-your-sorrows crowd who bellies up, it's college kids looking to party, reunited cousins out for a beer and patrons who want a break from family togetherness.
"I come here to disappear. All my in-laws are over,'' jokes township resident Ron Natoli, who nonetheless plans to stop by Hoover's with his brother-in-law Christmas night.
"We're very busy on Christmas,'' Hoover's bartender Kim Van Orden said. "We're busy all day.''
At the on Route 46, business is good in the morning, levels off around 2 p.m. and picks up after 6 p.m.
"It seems to be people go home for Christmas dinner, then return,'' said Walter Williamson, the bar owner.
Most of his Dec. 25 customers are male, while about 20 percent are women, he said. He doesn't believe that drinkers just show up for solace. Some just really need a drink.
"They know this place is open and they come over, because we also sell package goods as well,'' Williamson said.
Eugene Gillespie Sr., owner of the newly openedon Route 46, said opening hours on Christmas Day are when the loneliest people pop in. "Older people, maybe someone's wife has passed away, they just need to come out,'' he said.
Gillespie, who owns another Blackthorn Tavern in Kenilworth, said the house is full by 11 p.m. And he expects the same results in Parsippany. That's why he will stay open on Christmas.
"The reason I do it is anyone over 21, like college kids, wants to get out of the house. After 6 p.m., we'll have about 30 people sitting at the bar,'' Gillespie said.
bar on North Beverwyck Road opens at 6 p.m. on Christmas Day. "Last year, we opened and got the locals coming in. It's business. We opened up and made a few bucks," owner Terry Holleran said.
He doesn't see a lot of depressives on Christmas. In fact, they're usually pretty jolly. "I would say most people are with family all day, and if they're out, they stop in for a drink when coming home," he said.
Other bars observe the holiday by closing up. The on Reynolds Avenue, will not be open Saturday.
"It's a family day," owner Bobby Irnaldi said. "It's just that enough is enough. How much can you really drink, right?"