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Bars hopeful one year after state-wide shutdown

Posted at 6:39 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 18:39:29-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — It's a very different St. Patrick's Day this year in the Capital City. While one year ago, bars were getting ready to shut their doors but today, they're hoping to recover some of those losses taken through the pandemic.

St. Patrick's Day is normally a huge night for bars. Many are still trying to bounce back from the impact of this pandemic.

"We're just so grateful," said Brass Tap Owner Steven Arvanitis. "Literally everything stopped. The future was so uncertain. So many places closed."

Uncertainty followed after an order from Governor Ron DeSantis for bars across the state to close last March. Those that survived the shutdown were not allowed to reopen until September at 50 percent capacity.

"My staff has been looking forward to this. Just the money that they can make out of this, the city, everything people can come out and just relax and have a good time. Feel somewhat back to normal. Even though we're doing things on a much smaller scale, we're super grateful to be open. People looking for jobs, people not being able to pay their rent, people begging their landlords, their car companies," said Arvanitis. "It's why this St. Patrick's day is so important."

"It's great to get out, see people, talk to people. Haven't really seen my buddy all year," said Mike Joyner. "He's been hunkered down."

At Bullwinkles Saloon, they consider themselves one of the lucky ones. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association estimates about 10,000 bars and restaurants have closed across the state the past year.

"Kinda feels like we're back to normal," said Owner Steven Bailey. "We made it through last year because we got some of the grant money from the city and Leon CARES and the federal government. If we didn't have that, I don't know where we'd be."

Bailey said they wouldn't have made it this far without that financial support. Now, the hope is people keep coming back.

"We're thrilled to be here," said Bailey. "Let's hope it stays this way."

While both restaurants are back to full capacity you still have to wear your mask when you're in the restaurant as long as you're walking around.