Closing time drags on indefinitely for lots of Maine bars – Press Herald

19September 2020

Caleb Landry, who has blended drinks at Blyth & & Burrows considering that the Old Port cocktail bar opened three years ago, led a visitor from the street-level bar, up a couple of stairs past a second-level bar, and pressed open a bookcase that functions as a secret door.

The landing behind the bookcase looks down on a third bar, presently used as a staging area for Blyth & & Burrows, a change from its previous life as The Broken Dram.

“A year ago, this would have been loud, jam-packed and sweaty,” Landry stated as he looked down the small staircase at a quiet space cluttered with bottles however without people.

Bartender Caleb Landry blends a mixed drink behind the bar at Blyth & Burrows. Ben McCanna/Staff Professional Photographer

Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Loud, jam-packed and sweaty is no longer an appropriate environment for bars in the Old Port or anywhere else in Maine. In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the administration of Gov. Janet Mills purchased the closure of bars back in March.

Her resuming strategy initially included bars in Phase 3, which would have permitted patrons back within on July 1. Rather, bars have remained closed indefinitely. On Thursday, Mills said she has no strategies to change the existing constraints.

“Prematurely to do so,” she stated. “When it pertains to bars in specific, indoor gatherings, there have actually been outbreaks in other states. We’re extremely keenly knowledgeable about that.”

Undoubtedly, a recent Washington Post analysis of cellular phone and coronavirus case data showed that the average number of cases doubled 3 weeks after states resumed bars, compared with rates during the week of the reopening.

Maine is one of eight states where bars with no substantial food menu remain closed. 7 states presently have no restrictions concerning bars. The other 35 states have differing degrees of restrictions.

Some regional facilities transformed their licenses from lounge to restaurant/lounge, which allows them to fall under dining establishment guidelines offered they provide food more significant than chips and nuts, and keep their cooking areas open for as long as beverages are being served.

“What we acknowledge or know as a bar is truly a lounge under Maine law,” stated Brandon Mazer, a Portland attorney who focuses on bars and breweries. “To qualify as a restaurant, you need a kitchen and you require to serve full-course meals, things you need a fork and knife to consume, probably not just hotdogs or not just french fries.”

Portland presently has 59 such restaurant/lounge facilities, which can offer both indoor and outside seating. State mandates cap indoor gatherings at 50 and require social distancing of a minimum of 6 feet in between parties, which need to consist of no greater than 8 people.

PORTLAND, ME– SEPTEMBER 16: Griffin Meara, left, and Erin Barnes work the bar at Ruski’s Tavern, which resumed recently with indoor and outside seating.(Staff picture by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer )Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Ryan Deskins, who owns the Sagamore Hill Lounge on Park Street, changed his license back in April and started outdoor dining in June. He said company has been especially based on the weather condition this year.”

Some days our sales are as strong as they were prior to COVID,”he said.”Other days are so bad that you question whether we need to be open that day.”Street closures, parklets and other short-lived outdoor seating procedures have enabled bars with limited indoor & area more room to operate. Blyth & Burrows, for instance, is rather narrow and can fit anywhere from 16 to 20 clients inside your home while adhering to state standards. An extra area on Exchange Street can accommodate another lots, according to owner Josh Miranda.

“What harms is that bars generate income on people sitting at the bar,” stated Miranda, who stated income from the bar is roughly 35 percent of what it was a year ago.

Miranda likewise owns a neighboring restaurant, Via Vecchia, which opened in June and includes 2 outside platforms that can seat another 20 patrons. All that outdoor Old Port seating will disappear after October, when streets require to be cleared for snow removal operations.

“It’s going to be difficult,” Miranda said. “Usually, you make money in the summertime to make it through the next winter season, however a great deal of locations were just treading water this summertime. Everyone who got (Paycheck Security Program) money pretty much used it for what they were expected to, and now that’s gone. I don’t know what’s going to happen this winter.”

Six weeks remain before the arrival of November, and optimism can still be discovered. Ruski’s, a neighborhood tavern in the West End, opened its doors recently after being closed considering that March.

Monica Haley, who owns Ruski’s in addition to her husband, Josh, stated their pub is too little to have been operating totally inside, so they added 2 small picnic tables and another higher table outside and, after a building crew ended up re-bricking their sidewalk, resumed on Tuesday.

“We have actually had a lot of neighbors stopping in and saying it’s actually nice to see us open,” Haley said. “We’re just going to have to see how it goes.”

She admitted to being worried about when the cold weather hits and the outside seating is no longer an option.

“We really do pretty well in the winter since we’re up in a neighborhood and get a lots of foot traffic,” she stated. “However with the minimal capability, it’s going to be challenging.”

Bartender and server Chad LeBlanc, right, delivers a tray of beverages to a group of pals in the nautical-themed outside seating location at Blyth & Burrows. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Ben McCanna/Staff Professional Photographer Maine’s Department of Economic and

Community Development, which has actually been dealing with public health experts to develop reopening timelines and assistance for services, knows the difficulties dealing with bars and restaurants as colder weather condition relocations in.”We are taking a look at methods facilities may be able to securely move operations inside to ensure some profits can continue streaming,”DECD spokeswoman Kate Foye said. “The department is also taking a look at other designs used by cold-weather locations like Quebec and Nordic nations (that) use outside service year-round.”

Foye kept in mind that bars are of particular concern since “they are often little, enclosed spaces where individuals are close together and talking loudly, which is a congenial environment for infection spread. We likewise understand that bars in other states have actually been traced to sources of outbreaks, which notified the administration’s decision early in the reopening procedure to move them to outside only.”

Steve Hewins, president and CEO of Hospitality Maine, stated some bars and restaurants have actually opted to remain closed until the pandemic recedes. Once outside serving no longer ends up being a viable alternative, he stated there might be more closures.

“Whether they do it permanently, we don’t know,” he said.

Blythe & Burrows has actually set up a nautical-themed outdoor lounge on Exchange Street. Ben McCanna/Staff Professional Photographer Ben McCanna/Staff Professional Photographer

Portland’s earliest brewpub, Gritty McDuff’s, made the most of the spring closure to install brand-new ventilation and heating systems and change old duct. 7 outdoor picnic tables enable service to spill out onto Wharf Street.

Gritty’s likewise has brewpubs in Freeport and Auburn that enable more comprehensive outside seating.

“We’ve been fortunate,” stated Gritty’s owner and founder Richard Pfeffer. “July was so hot that people didn’t wish to be out there, but since then we have actually had such fantastic weather. August and September have been so dry that it’s been fantastic for outside seating.”

The absence of cruise ship guests this summer season and fall impacted lots of Old Port organizations, and a lot of individuals stay uncomfortable going out to consume or consume till the pandemic is brought under control through a widely readily available vaccine.

“Whatever is so unpredictable,” Pfeffer stated of the upcoming months. “We may choose we need to do a shutdown and do some jobs. I think we’re hoping we can preserve a consistent service with our regular clients and hoping a vaccine will change the method we manage the whole thing.”

Shaun McCarthy, who owns Dock Fore on Fore Street in Portland, reopened in early August after transforming his license to the restaurant/lounge category. He added 4 picnic tables and two other cocktail/food tables for outdoors service.

McCarthy said the state has actually done well to control the spread of coronavirus, and if everyone follows security procedures and uses a mask, life can go on.

“It’s basically a waiting video game at this phase,” he said. “Everybody that I hear from is hoping they can have more capability, however as long as the (COVID-19) numbers stay great and people keep following the rules, I think everyone will be great.”


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