Facing the music: Entertainment venues, restaurants weigh reopening options

As coronavirus restrictions ease in US and around the world, some owners say they can’t cover costs of operating at reduced capacity

New York Weekend Edition /
May.May 23, 2020 02:00 PM
Bars, restaurants and live entertainment venues around the world are now weighing their reopening options. Some owners say they can’t cover the cost of operating at reduced capacity. (Getty)

Bars, restaurants and live entertainment venues around the world are now weighing their reopening options. Some owners say they can’t cover the cost of operating at reduced capacity. (Getty)

As the U.S. and countries across the globe begin easing some restrictions on nonessential businesses, bars, restaurants and live entertainment venues face tough decisions.

Some are planning to open at whatever capacity local authorities will allow, while others are on the fence about opening up at all because of the financial constraints, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Business owners say they need to run at higher capacities than social-distancing guidelines allow to cover the costs of operating. Bars typically need more customers in the door than restaurants because their patrons usually spend less than patrons who come in for meals, according to the Journal.

Michael Grieve, who manages the Sub Club in Glasgow, Scotland, said he doesn’t plan to open until social distancing guidelines are dropped completely. He said the 410-person capacity club is about “a shared emotional, and at its best euphoric, experience” that can’t be achieved with social distancing in place.

He said he needs over 90 percent capacity to turn a profit. Others say they just want to open and in the short-term, will accept whatever business comes their way. Weeks of closures have meant many businesses are on the brink of failure.

At The Brass Tap craft beer bar in Austin, Texas, general manager Lewis Smith said: “The place will look empty but it doesn’t matter to us so long as it can get started back up.”

Restaurants could fare better. Many jurisdictions are allowing eateries to have higher capacities than bars, as long as tables are spread out at an appropriate distance and they meet other operating guidelines. [WSJ] ­— Dennis Lynch


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