Bar owners & workers struggle to adapt to tougher state regs

New regulations for bars & restaurants

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Watertown’s Downtown Local Lounge co-owner Kevin Hoover is still trying to make sense of the state’s new requirements for bars and restaurants.

Among them, no service of alcohol to people unless they’re ordering and eating food. Hoover says he’s worried it might have some potential customers walking out the door.

“Bars for the most part, people are coming in to get something to drink,” he said. “They don’t necessarily want to get something to eat.”

But one customer says, having to order food isn't a deal breaker for her.

“Basically, we’re promoting the business, trying to help them to stay open, especially during this time,” Tammy Gerstenschlager said. “So, I have no issue spending a few extra dollars.”

That's not the only rule Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday. Service at bar tops will only be for seated patrons who are socially distanced. Hoover says that means no more walk-up service.

“They’re not allowed to come up to the bar anymore, I guess, to pay or do anything at all,” he said, “because if there’s people sitting at the bar and someone comes up to try and pay, they’re breaking the six-foot rule.”

Staff at Watertown's Pearl Street Pub say the governor's new rules could add more to their workload.

“I do usually stay behind the bar, but as of right now, we’re going to have to be going from table to table,” bartender Heather Perrin said. “And trying to do a little bit of both, and cooking.”

At Downtown Local Lounge, Hoover says staff is limited to just his wife and him. And Hoover says the regulations could pull him in many different directions.

“I wouldn’t even be able to maintain it out here and be in the kitchen doing stuff at the same time.”

The governor also announced any establishment that receives three violations will be closed for business.

The requirement that food must be served with alcohol takes effect Friday.

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