SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Restaurants have been one of the hardest-hit industries due to the pandemic, but sports bars and restaurants are starting to get a much-needed spark.
Capacity limits are something that have hampered the bottom line for a lot of restaurants. Places known for being somewhere to grab a bite and watch a game, and sports being back has been a welcome sign.
Places that show games would normally be serving packed houses several nights a week this time of year. The ordinances and regulations that have been implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have put them under the same stressors as most establishments.
Things like capacity limits, staff cuts, or even reduced hours are among factors management has had to take into consideration.
“Definitely have to think outside of the box now. Get creative with advertising and menus, and we try to make everyone feel safe,” says Jennifer Barr, Co-Owner of Georgia Mac’s.
They have done things such as open up the outside of their building to allow for more seating as a “tailgate” of sorts for NFL Sundays.
“Anytime the Chiefs are on, everybody wants to work that night because they know it’s going to be busy. They’re just excited to be back at work, and to actually have people coming back into the bar,” says Barr.
At Bair’s All-American Sports Grill, Bar Manager Amber Lawrence says the challenges have helped them grow as a staff even if they haven’t been as busy.
“There’s been a lot of things learned. How to make people comfortable, how to make new priorities work,” says Lawrence.
Lawrence says that for a place like Bair’s, a gameday can give them the pop they need to be busy.
“Going on a wait is something that is amazing for a place that serves burger and fries and domestic beers,” Lawrence says. “On a random Thursday when the Chimorning playing, or a Sunday morning – you realize you have a 50 minute wait before you get a table because the fact that game is playing – that is a good sign.”
The Roost Bar & Grill is traditionally known as a place to watch the St. Louis Cardinals, but COO Syl Seven says they are glad to have any type of game on the television. It’s something that has helped in ways that extend beyond just revenue.
“It’s just magnified everything. Not just for our patrons, but for our employees’ morale, our servers tips. We’re employing more cooks day after day. We’re just blessed,” says Seven.
He says the sporadic nature of the NFL schedule, along with having the NBA and MLB playoffs happening at the same time, has spread out some of the opportunity people have come to enjoy a game.