Split Personalities – Returning to the Bar Post Pandemic

By Bob Tagert

Split Personalities – Returning to the Bar Post Pandemic

This time last year we were knee deep in the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants were working at twenty-five percent capacity, the bars were shut down and retail shops were limited to a few customers at a time. Now, a year later, the restaurants are at near capacity, and the bars are alive again with customers bellying up to their favorite bar for an adult beverage and to renew friendships.

Tami Hatridge – “Slow down, you move too fast!”

As I returned to my favorite watering hole this week it became clear that this was not the same place I left a year ago. Sure, there were some of the old gang there, but some were missing and I wonder if they will ever return. Much has changed in the last 12 months. Some have moved away, some have reassessed their behavior while others have discovered different options. True that this was the first day that the bars were open for “normal” seating so maybe it was like the first day of school and everyone rushed to the playground in hopes of regaining what has been missing this past year.

In my case, the bar was filled with folks that I had not seen in a while. I got one of the last two seats at the bar. As I began to renew acquaintances I realized there was also a number of new people eager to get the bartenders attention. The etiquette of this particular establishment had been ingrained in us all over the years. There was no raising the hand and waving for the attention of the bartender. They see you as soon as you walk in. These are lessons I learned long ago.

Todd Shlanta – “Eat fish, drink beer, live longer.”
Edgar Tista – “It’s all new to me, I just started bartending.
Kathy Coombs – “I’m starting to get back into the groove.”

The next evening when I returned to the same bar the place wasn’t two deep at the bar, in fact it was only about half full with some I knew and others I didn’t. So now I wonder if things will return as they were before the pandemic or are they forever changed. Will folks brave the winds of change by seeking out new destinations? Will they change their behavior and seek a new direction? My guess is that this will take time as each day will dictate our actions and maybe not the status quo of yesterday. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I talked to a few of our local bartenders and asked for their thoughts on the post pandemic landscape. No one really had a clear picture. They too are in a wait and see posture, but they are prepared and waiting for the business.

Brad & Bruce Wytucki- “Make yourself at home!”

If you are looking for a new destination and new friends check out the restaurants that advertise in this publication. They are a diverse group and can accommodate every whim. I doubt that our lives will ever be normal again. I fear that there is a new normal and we don’t know what it is yet. Until then, I will probably spend more time at home but I am sure that I will be enjoying a vodka gimlet at one of Old Town’s great bars. Come join me!

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