The bar is open: words some people have been waiting a long time to hear.
Subdued for over a year, the bar scene in Connecticut has been virtually non-existent. Now that restrictions have been lifted, bar business is returning. Owners of some New Haven bars are excited and relieved.
Inside Café’ Nine, there was live music Friday night and a celebratory atmosphere. Owner Paul Mayer said they were virtually closed for 13 months and are just now slowly reopening. He said he’s keeping the crowd at 70%.
“We are going to see how it goes and then maybe go back to the way we were doing shows. Which is kind of, standing room only, shoulder-to-shoulder,” said Mayer.
Nearby, The Trinity Bar and Restaurant has been partially open, but not like it will be this weekend, with extended business hours and an expectation of large crowds.
“We’re just looking forward to a great summer. Hopefully, everyone has a few dollars in their pocket ready to spend it,” said Trinity Owner Shane Carty.
Outside at 116 Crown Restaurant and Bar, there is garden seating, something they relied on during the pandemic and continue to use. Inside, they are ready to resume business they remember having many months ago.
“Well, it’s very exciting. I feel like we really made it,” said owner Danielle Ginnetti.
On Thursday, Partners Café opened for the first time in 14 months, something the owner said was overwhelming.
“It was just happiness. To see your friends, your family and everyone who used to come here for the longest time, to come back, it was amazing,” said owner Bernard Lanche.
While crowds are gathering at bars, people said they're still being cautious.
“I mean as long as everyone is safe, vaccinated, and just keeping within the guidelines, I think things will be okay,” said Iliana Fishman of Hamden.
As for safety precautions, bars that spoke with NBC Connecticut still have many in place. Most still have plexiglass barriers and are requiring, at minimum, their employees to wear masks.