Maine bar owners ‘disappointed, but not surprised’ after governor delays opening

Many bar owners in Portland said they were disappointed but not surprised by Gov. Janet Mills’ announcement on Monday to delay letting them open for indoor service on July 1.Some are now ramping up efforts to prepare outdoor seating areas, but not all of them have that option.At Dock Fore in Portland’s Old Port, up to 49 customers could be served inside before the coronavirus outbreak. Now, with limited space outside, owner Shaun McCarthy says he can serve up to eight people.”Happy hour is $2 a beer. That’s $16, and how many times are you going to turn eight people? It just doesn’t work,” McCarthy said.Across Fore Street at Vena’s Fizz House, the owner is taking advantage of the “parklets,” which are parking spaces that have been turned into outdoor seating. It was a compromise by the city after it denied a request to shut down Fore Street for outdoor seating.Owner Steve Corman said the parklet opened on Saturday and was the first day he made a profit since the coronavirus outbreak started in mid-March.”We profited Saturday. Every other day before that, from June 1 when we opened for retail, we’re losing money.”Putting out tables on the street isn’t an option for Shaun McCarthy at Dock Fore. The bar is on a street corner, and doing so would put his customers’ safety at risk.”I can’t open up for the safety of my customers, and the safety of my employees without some kind of barrier here. God forbid somebody was texting, just not paying attention and came up this way and didn’t make that little turn, they’d at least catch the barrier, not the people.”

Many bar owners in Portland said they were disappointed but not surprised by Gov. Janet Mills’ announcement on Monday to delay letting them open for indoor service on July 1.

Some are now ramping up efforts to prepare outdoor seating areas, but not all of them have that option.

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At Dock Fore in Portland’s Old Port, up to 49 customers could be served inside before the coronavirus outbreak. Now, with limited space outside, owner Shaun McCarthy says he can serve up to eight people.

“Happy hour is $2 a beer. That’s $16, and how many times are you going to turn eight people? It just doesn’t work,” McCarthy said.

Across Fore Street at Vena’s Fizz House, the owner is taking advantage of the “parklets,” which are parking spaces that have been turned into outdoor seating. It was a compromise by the city after it denied a request to shut down Fore Street for outdoor seating.

Owner Steve Corman said the parklet opened on Saturday and was the first day he made a profit since the coronavirus outbreak started in mid-March.

“We profited Saturday. Every other day before that, from June 1 when we opened for retail, we’re losing money.”

Putting out tables on the street isn’t an option for Shaun McCarthy at Dock Fore. The bar is on a street corner, and doing so would put his customers’ safety at risk.

“I can’t open up for the safety of my customers, and the safety of my employees without some kind of barrier here. God forbid somebody was texting, just not paying attention and came up this way and didn’t make that little turn, they’d at least catch the barrier, not the people.”