Bar owners start thinking about reopening ahead of Governor's phase two announcement
BATON ROUGE – On Monday, the Governor will announce if the state is ready to move into phase two of reopening the economy. If that happens, bars will be able to let customers in again with some restrictions starting on June 5. Many bar owners will welcome the next phase, but not without some concern.
“The minute I open that door at the bar the rent starts again, the insurance, and the labor,” said Brad Watts.
Watts owns The River Room, a bar in downtown Baton Rouge. It’s been closed since Sunday, March 15. Watts knows there's a lot to consider as the opportunity to reopen his bar could come at the end of the week.
“I'm just waiting until they say it's okay,” said Watts.
He says the physical work will be a breeze. “I will cut some fruit and pour some ice in the bar and we'll be open for business."
But located downtown, Watts is unsure how much of a clientele will want to come back.
“We rely heavily on special events, hotels being full, concerts and things going on downtown that bring us business. I think we can both agree, that's not going to happen for the rest of the summer,” said Watts.
Eric Carnegie, the owner of Boudreaux and Thibodeaux’s also downtown, opened up the bar on the weekends also selling food allowing him to do so.
“We’re not losing money, but it's kind of like a break-even, or a little bit below,” said Carneigie.
Carnegie is already dealing with the difficulty of only hosting the space at 25 percent capacity. But it's not going to stop him from opening up his other bar downtown, Happy's, when it’s allowed.
“I'm just excited to see people again. Go around the bars and see people talking. You basically have 8 weeks of stories to tell people by now,” said Carnegie.
That's what Watts says he's most excited about too.
“There's a handful of people who come there every day who I am looking forward to seeing, and I know I have a couple of bartenders who want to get back to work. I think a lot of people want to get back to normal."