BROOKVILLE, Pa., (EYT) – Gov. Tom Wolf has mandated that all state restaurants and bars close their dine-in facilities in the face of a threat of COVID-19. Businesses that offer carry-out, delivery, or drive-through food and beverage service are permitted to operate, but food and beverages must be consumed off-premises.
That left area restaurants and bars scrambling to come up with a plan on Monday.
In Clarion, Ron Pacsai, owner of Infusion Night Club and Grille, said he will comply with state law and the state’s Liquor Control Board but right now, doesn’t plan to close.
He did not hesitate to say why.
“Money!” He said with a laugh. “I would lose a lot of capital if I would shut my doors. My bar, unlike a lot of other bars, is not paid for. It runs on a month-to-month basis.”
He stresses that employees were meticulous about cleaning even before concerns about COVID-19 surfaced. Surfaces are wiped down regularly.
Pacsai said business was brisk during the weekend, especially with college students who are not overly worried about the virus.
If he does need to close his bar area, he said they will continue to sell food and beer to-go.
In Brookville, Pat Hatzinikolas, owner of the Court House Grille and Pub, said that with concerns about COVID-19, business began declining last week as residents were encouraged to avoid social settings.
He said that while the dining area must remain closed, they will continue to offer delivery and takeout meals.
“Half of my staff is going to have to get laid off,” Hatzinikolasv said. He currently employs eight people.
He said his staff has been expressing concerns about how they are going to pay their bills.
He also noted that he was unsure if the staff would be able to collect unemployment during the time the restrictions were in place.
“I don’t know how this whole system is going to work,” he said. “Nobody has set any guidelines.”
“I think it’s going to hurt a lot of businesses and the economy. I think a lot of people are just overreacting.”
In Franklin at Benjamin’s Roadhouse, the staff was formulating a plan for how they would continue to serve takeout.
“Right now, all of our decisions are up in the air,” said Manager Tawnya Thompson. “We will be available for takeout orders. We’re going to see how that goes.”
While takeout food is usually available, it’s not a large part of the restaurant’s business.
Thompson says it’s unlikely they’ll be able to keep the entire staff on the payroll without having the dining room open.
Despite concerns about COVID-19, Thompson said they had steady business during the weekend.
“We’re still sitting down and discussing all this. We haven’t made all of our decisions yet.”