A year ago, Irish pubs and restaurants that normally host St. Patrick’s Day celebrations were closed. This year, most are open, but the celebrations have been adjusted.
Normally by 8 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, the taps are already flowing at Vaughan’s Public House in Hartford. Not this year.
“It’s a lot different than it usually is,” said owner Johnny Vaughan, who describes St. Patrick’s Day as his Super Bowl. “Usually, people just kind of barrel in here. The door swings open and stays open for hours.”
Instead of 8 a.m., the doors at Vaughan’s didn’t open until 11 a.m. Wednesday, giving them extra time to set up temporary outdoor seating which was available by reservation only.
“We’ve had to be a little inventive and put some chairs and tables out in the street and social distance inside,” Vaughan explained.
Outdoor celebrations were prevalent. The Rambling Inn, a mobile Irish pub with outdoor taps and no indoor seating, was in West Hartford.
“A lot of the way we’re set up to work is actually conducive to the social distancing guidelines,” said co-owner, Troy Stuckey.
Elsewhere in Hartford, The Half Door Irish pub was also popular. Like Vaughan’s seating was also by reservation only and management made sure no one entered the building before their reservation times.
“It just makes it safe for everyone. We don’t want that huge rush of people flocking the restaurant,” said Half Door general manager Alex Jensen.
While the spirit of St. Patrick Day was alive and well Wednesday, celebrating safely was the goal.
“I think they did a really good job of making us be able to do the same thing this year but just safer,” said Millie Vibert of Bristol.
After a year without public green beer celebrations, those who were out were excited to do so.
“I’m just really happy that we can be here today and enjoy and enjoy a nice St. Patrick’s Day in 2021,” said Alex Obernier of Litchfield.
As for the business owners Wednesday was bittersweet. After being closed last St. Patrick’s Day, restaurant owners were genuinely excited to be open but say they still have a way to go before recovering from being closed for several months.
Still, on a day when Irish pubs are normally packed, playing it safe was the way to go.
“I know the pandemic isn’t over yet,” said Jensen. “We’re turning a new leaf soon, hopefully but that hasn’t happened yet.”