‘Everyone wants to be at the bar’: Mass. restaurant owners react to relaxed guidelines

Business News

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) ─ The manager of a Fall River restaurant tells 12 News she is relieved that Gov. Charlie Baker is lifting statewide restrictions that prevented businesses from opening their bars for food service.

Baker said beginning next week, restaurants will be able to seat up to 10 people at a table instead of six and they can use their bars to serve food as long as proper distancing measures are in place.

The news is welcoming to Judy Brown, general manager at The Cove Restaurant and Marina. She said she has four bars that have been closed for months.

“The bar is the hub of the restaurant, besides your kitchen,” Brown said. “Everyone wants to be at the bar and hang out at the bar.”

Brown said it’s not just good for business, but also for her staff.

“You go from having 12 bartenders to two or three a shift, so they’ve been hurt a lot financially,” Brown said. “I’m hoping the bartenders will have a better season in the winter with us being able to open up the bars again.”

While Bobbi Holmgren, general manager of Barrett’s Waterfront, agrees with Brown, she also said it’s now a “numbers game” restaurants will have to play to ensure everyone is far enough apart.

“Right now, we are torn between having bar seating and keeping bars the way they are,” Holmgren said. “Right now we have three high-tops pushed up against the bar and I can fit seven people at each high-top. I don’t know if I can fit seven people socially distanced together.”

“People want bar seating because they haven’t had bar seating but is it best for the business financially right now?” she continued.

Holmgren said Barrett’s will have to keep innovating and adapting throughout the pandemic, a tactic she said is necessary for their survival.

“It’s just a very tough time for the restaurant industry, we’re trying to think of things that are outside the box to try to get people in,” Holmgren said.

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