Glimmer of hope for bars, restaurants hoping to operate past 10 p.m.

Glimmer of hope for bars, restaurants hoping to operate past 10 p.m.

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - COVID-19 cases may be declining, but restrictions are in full force at north country restaurants. However, a ruling in Western New York is bringing a glimmer of hope to local restaurant owners.

It’s been a rollercoaster year for bars and restaurants across New York State because of COVID-19, including Pearl Street Pub in Watertown.

“It really has just been one thing after another trying to comply with everything and then to top it off, we have to close at 10 p.m.,” said Heather Perrin, the Bar Manager, at Pearl Street Pub in Watertown.

“Anything positive, we’re looking forward to,” said Perrin.

One of those positives came just last week, when nearly 100 bars in Western New York were granted a temporary restraining order, allowing them to stay open past 10 p.m.

“Prior to these lawsuits in Western New York, most of the challenges have been unsuccessful,” said President and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, Melissa Fleischut, “I think there was a real hesitancy by people to challenge these rules and restrictions because it seemed as though the courts were siding with the state on a lot of this.”

That’s a big reason why restaurant owners think this may be the beginning of the end after a year-long struggle.

“I just, I jumped. I was like, ‘Yes! Yes, they won! Hallelujah!,” said Jackie Pashaw, Owner of Rusty P’s.”

The New York State Restaurant Association isn’t sure if the ruling will lead to similar lawsuits across the state. When it comes to actually starting a lawsuit, it comes down to one thing and it’s one thing restaurants are already struggling with.

“It’s all about money. It’s a money game. And right now he’s got us under our thumb because we don’t have a lot of money. Our sales are down,” said Pashaw.

Neither Rusty P’s nor Peart Street Pub are looking to start a lawsuit, but they do see this as a step in the right direction.

New York State, on the other hand, says it strongly disagrees with the ruling and will be “moving immediately to vacate the temporary restraining order.”

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