PLATTSBURGH — New York's curfew on the food and beverage industry came to a close over the long weekend and, after more than a year's worth of shifting rules and regulations, some bar owners say business feels as usual again.
"We're back to our old hours," Corey Rosoff, owner and operator of downtown Plattsburgh tavern Monopole, said. "People are happy."
The industry-wide curfew was set at 10 p.m. last year and was gradually extended in the months following, reaching as late as midnight in April.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo around that time announced the curfew's impending end, saying outdoor food and drink stops could as of Monday, May 17 stay open late again and indoor ones could join in two weeks later on Memorial Day.
"During the month of May we took major steps towards reopening our economy and as of May 31, we are lifting the midnight curfew on indoor dining for bars and restaurants across New York," the governor says in a recent statement.
"Like every other milestone of our reopening, the end of curfew for indoor dining is the result of New Yorkers banding together, practicing safety precautions and getting vaccinated, so we can defeat the virus and work our way towards a new normal.
"Our reopening approach has always been data-based and if we want to stay on our current trajectory, we need to remain vigilant across the board — especially when it comes to indoor activities. As always, we will continue to work with our local partners to make sure venues are following basic safety guidelines."
Monopole, an indoor bar, returned to its regular hours Monday, again serving drinks and pub fare from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.
"It went well," Rosoff said of the first night sans curfew. "It just feels good."
The owner noted his bar was back to its pre-pandemic staffing levels, plus a few extras, after having reached a staff of four around this time last year.
"Anytime the hours are extended, it just gives my staff more hours."
Even before the curfew lifted, Bobby's Lounge Owner Robert "Bobby" Hall said he noticed business picking back up at his small South Catherine Street establishment in the City of Plattsburgh.
"It was right back to normal, probably a little bit above normal," Hall, Area 10 Clinton County legislator, said of business Friday night. "I think this is really great. I really do.
"I can't get over how many people are excited about taking their mask off — it's amazing."
Noting an estimated 90 to 95 percent of Bobby's Lounge patrons he spoke with that night were fully vaccinated, Hall said his bar would likely continue to close around midnight during the week and stay open until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
"Most of my customers, especially on Saturday nights, go out for a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant and then they go to Bobby's to have some drinks. They don't even get there until 10 p.m. Saturday nights are very important."
Rosoff said Monopole business had picked back up in recent weeks, too.
"It seems like each week people are getting more comfortable and people miss socializing," he said. "We just finished May 2021. That was comparable to May 2019."
'A BIG PLUS'
In April, state lawmakers voted to rescind the governor's food-with-booze order that required patrons buy grub to have a beverage when out.
Asked how business was since it was lifted, Hall commented, "Oh my God. That was big plus. Your average customer who comes to the bar to have a drink and play Quick Draw — they don't want to eat."
At Monopole, Rosoff said a lot of his customers were happy it was gone, noting how, like Hall's patrons, many went to eat dinner out before heading to a bar for a drink.
"If somebody was going to Arnie's (Restaurant) for dinner, it was like why would you want food?"
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