AS PLACES WE GO TO GATHER, BARS HAVE SUFFERED DURING THE PANDEMIC
By Vejay Steede
There was a time not long ago when the pub on the corner was the favoured gathering spot for many grown folks in the community, but with the arrival of Covid-19 bringing “shelter in place” orders and restrictive capacity limits with it, local bars have taken some serious hits over the last year.
Reed Young, owner of Docksider Pub and Restaurant, gave RG Mags an overview of the challenges faced by local bars.
“Covid has affected everyday operations from curfews and having to close early, to minimum numbers sitting at tables, to no bar service, to no one allowed to stand, to me having to run around telling people to put their masks on. We have so many rules and regulations now and most of them restrict numbers, our business relies on numbers.”
Local bars have had to make dramatic changes to everything from hours of operation, to service style, to floor layout. Mr Young explained: “We’ve had to space tables out and decrease the amount of seats at tables. Put signs up everywhere stating wear a mask/keep social distance, etc., etc. The current wave of restrictions has us closed*.”
(*Editor’s note: The Government of Bermuda enforced a Stay at Home order from April 13 – 20, 2021, after which the country began a phased reopening for both households and businesses.)
Being closed is bad for business, but even when Docksiders’ kitchen was able to open for food service the Covid-19 restrictions severely limited income potential.
“Opening for take-out and delivery, this will not make us any money, however I feel that to remain relevant we need to open. I guess overall our business relies on volume to make money. Covid has restricted our ability to host and welcome people. This is over a year now – this industry is hurting. Hopefully we get back to full swing this summer,” said Mr Young.
Smaller bars suffer from restrictive measures such as, not being allowed to have patrons sit at the bar, not having enough space for table service to even be an option, losing contact with regular customers who now have to stay away due to restrictions on the size of gatherings and curfews. In fact, curfews have hit smaller bars quite hard, as many venues depend on “after hours” business to keep them afloat.
A bar owner who asked to remain anonymous pointed to the hardship of his staff as a truly unfortunate symptom of the disruptive, on-again, off-again Covid-19 restrictions. Indeed, bartenders, short-order cooks, servers, and security personnel have all found life hard during these precarious times, as have many other workers who depend on the patronage of people partaking in their service to survive.
To quote the Beatles: “It’s been a hard day’s night” for many a local bar owner, and the morning must seem as far away right now as it has ever been.
Hopefully Bermuda will come out of this surreal nightmare sooner rather than later and the local pubs will be bustling with grown folk business again. Until that day, let’s all raise a glass and hope that we get through this in relative haste. Salud!