BUFFALO, NY – New York has imposed a curfew on bars and restaurants since November of last year.
Mandatory closing time began at 10 p.m. and eased first at 11 p.m. and then at midnight over time. However, Brandon Carr, the owner of The Quarter in Buffalo, said even that restriction was difficult with 65% of his business coming in late at night.
“It was a dramatic loss,” Carr said. “But luckily we were still able to have very good dinner service and provide good service during that time, and that got us through it all.”
The Quarter was part of a lawsuit along with around 90 other bars and restaurants and was granted two short stays when a judge temporarily lifted the curfew, only to have it reinstated both times on appeal. Carr said those decisions helped, but in general they sharply criticized the governor’s COVID mandates.
“It has been a very difficult and challenging task to really change with all the climate of what’s going on,” he said. “The different regulations, the different policies. Everything that has happened in the last year and a half. One of the biggest hits has been the putting in place of curfews.”
On Tuesday, those warrants largely disappeared. Capacity has returned to 100%, vaccinated clients no longer need to wear masks, and the curfew is lifted. In Buffalo, that means The Quarter can stay open until 4 a.m.
“We’re going to start staying open until 4 am, probably not every night,” Carr said. “You know, during the week we’ll probably close around 2 a.m., but certainly Thursday, Friday, Saturday we’ll be open until 4 p.m.
The owner said the change that happened on Tuesday made the transition easier than in the past when the rules changed over the weekend. The state also lifted the curfew on al fresco dining and drinks in mid-May.
“Anything is better than nothing,” Carr said. “One of the challenges we faced during that time was that at 11:55 am we had to say, ‘Everyone, come out. Bring your drinks and go out, “which was a little strange, and a little awkward and uncomfortable to do.”
Carr said some COVID security protocols will remain in place, such as partitions at the bar, an unvaccinated section where patrons will continue to wear masks and her staff, at least for now, will continue to wear masks as well.
“Everyone has changed their mind,” he said. “I don’t think everything will go back to how it was before, but I feel like we’re back.”
Carr said he expects a large late-night crowd early on that will likely subside a bit after a few weeks.