Olive Garden in Times Square charging $400 per person on New Yea - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Olive Garden in Times Square charging $400 per person on New Year's Eve — and they aren't alone

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By Rheana Murray, TODAY

If you plan on ringing in 2016 in one of New York City's Times Square restaurants, be prepared to fork over some cash.

The square is known for its annual ball drop on New Year's Eve, a party that draws thousands from across the world — and a chance for even the most budget-friendly restaurants to jack up their prices.

Like every year, this year's rates are drawing some attention — like Olive Garden's $400 per person ticket, which includes a dinner buffet and an open bar. (And of course, breadsticks.)

The Italian chain isn't the only restaurant hiking up their prices.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., which is a few blocks closer to the ball and has a better view, is charging $799 a head, while general admission is $349 at Ruby Tuesday and $299 at Planet Hollywood.

You'll find a relative deal at TGI Friday's, where tickets start at $199.

Prices go up to the thousands if you're looking for a table or any kind of VIP treatment, like bottle service.

But the headline-grabbing ticket prices are nothing new, says Paul Warshaw, co-founder of Ball Drop, a company that works with many of the Times Square restaurants, bars and hotels to plan New Year's Eve parties.

"The prices have been fairly consistent the last five or ten years," he told TODAY. "Maybe a small, unnoticed increase each year."

While it's free to stand in Times Square on New Year's Eve, it's often freezing and can be tough to find a space.

"To get a good spot, you literally have to go stand on the street for ten hours, and stay there," Warshaw said. "You have no bathrooms, no access to food."

Warshaw also points out what most hardened New Yorkers already know — that the people in Times Square on New Year's Eve are mostly tourists.

"Here's the thing, people come from all over the world," he said. "The majority of our customer base is coming from overseas or outside of New York. And they want to watch the ball drop."

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