GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Before Thanksgiving, there is another reason to gather.
The Wednesday before the holiday is up there with St. Patrick's Day as far as busy bars go.
"First owner was Bob; second owner was his nephew Dick," says Bob Quay, the third owner of Bob's Bar.
The Michigan Street staple was ready for a busy day.
"We were packed at 7 a.m.," says Bob. "You have a lot of people that have been out of state, or out of the city, and are not normally back here. People come back to see their families, they reunite with high school people, college people they knew. They all go out and hit the bars the night before thanksgiving."
The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) says they know the number one concern: keeping staff healthy.
"Business owners and my members, they get it. They don't want to have a night and then half their staff be out sick," says MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis, "especially when the number one problem is getting employees."
For places like Bob's it's a refreshing return to normal after a sudden shutdown of indoor dining and drinking in 2020.
"Well, we got closed the week before. We were looking forward to being open for the day before Thanksgiving, and she shut us down a week before that," says Bob.
This is a happy moment of better times on the horizon.
"I don't think anybody has a for-sure idea of what to expect," says Ellis.
The Kent County Health Department says if you're not vaccinated, given current COVID numbers in Michigan, it's not a good idea to be out and about in large indoor groups.
The American Automobile Association will tow your car for free, so please don't drink and drive. Nothing about a night in jail says "Happy Thanksgiving."