With patrons not allowed to dine in, RI’s Irish pubs eerily empty on St. Patrick’s Day


PROVIDENCE R.I. (WPRI) ─ For the first time since it opened nine years ago, McBride’s Irish Pub in Providence is closed on St. Patrick’s Day.

Co-owner Mark Russell said the restaurant usually opens its doors at 8 a.m. and is standing-room-only on the holiday. This year, the doors will remain closed as per the order from state officials.

Beginning Tuesday morning, all restaurants and bars were directed to halt dine-in food and beverage service until at least March 30 as part of the state’s response to the coronavirus. Restaurants are still allowed to offer take-out, drive-thru and delivery.

Russell said while he’s upset that McBride’s is closed, he’s grateful to be in a position to help his employees during these unprecedented times.

“We’ve already got our employees set up to collect TDI, and we’re going to do our best to make them whole,” he explained. “Most of our employees have been with us for nine years – since we started. In this industry, that’s rare, so we’ll try to take care of them.”

Russell said the restaurant had already prepared hundreds of pounds of corned beef for the major holiday. He said the pub has partnered with Operation Stand Down, which will give the excess food to homeless veterans.

The situation was similar at Murphy’s Pub, which was open for take-out and delivery only.

Owner Ruth Ferrazzano said with the closure of the dining room and bar, her business has taken a big financial hit.

“It’s really taking the heart out of me,” she said. “It couldn’t have happened at a worse time for us. This time of year there are conferences, conventions. We lost a lot of business in general and that we just won’t get back, so there will be backlash financially for a long time and I’m sure for many businesses in the area.”

Ferrazzano said while her restaurant has been busy preparing take-out meals, she’s still sitting on the abundance of Guinness and Jameson she ordered for the holiday that she won’t be able to sell.

“I obviously would never have ordered all of that and have all that inventory sitting there with little or no sales coming in,” she said.

Despite it all, Ferrazzano said she plans to hold an Irish celebration as soon as the restaurant is up and running again.

Russell echoed that sentiment. Rather than worrying about what he can’t control, he’s already thinking ahead.

“I was doing some research, and there’s a St. Brendan — another famous Irish saint — and his feast day is in August,” Russell said. “So I’m thinking, maybe we can have a St. Brendan’s Day to bring us out of this little funny mix.”

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