GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — After a long year filled with closures and restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, bars and restaurants in West Michigan are ready for longer nights.
On Tuesday, the state’s 11 p.m. curfew, which impacted the establishments, was lifted.
“While cleaning up, I’ve seen people trying to come in and drink,” said Maciej Halaczkiewicz. “Obviously, because of [the] curfew, we couldn’t let them in.”
Halaczkiewicz owns Arktos Meadery, which is located on Bridge Street in Grand Rapids, next to several other bars. Starting Friday, it will stay open until midnight on weekends.
“The weather is just too nice, daylights lasting longer,” said Halaczkiewicz. “I think it’s just time. Not rushing anything, just kind of taking it slow to make sure everything goes well and smooth.”
Halaczkiewicz says Arktos never made most of its money late at night, but he estimates the extra hours could increase sales up to 15 percent.
Across town at Bob’s Bar, though, they rely on that time.
“The 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. are really good hours for us and very profitable for us,” said Bob Quay, owner. “We’re excited about staying open.”
While the midtown staple is eager to welcome customers back, the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association is asking people to be patient.
“It’s gonna take time for our employees and our people to get back in the swing of things,” said Scott Ellis, the organization’s president.
According to Ellis, bars and restaurants face issues that extend past last call and could continue through the lifting of indoor limits in July.
The biggest problem is an employee shortage. Some of MLBA’s 2000 members have reported keeping hours limited or closing on some days to offset it. Added to that, Ellis says, is the rising cost of goods. As a result, food and drink prices may go up.
“Coming out of this pandemic and trying to come out of this at the same time, we're facing a lot,” said Ellis.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services implemented the curfew last winter.
“Take your time, be polite,” said Halaczkiewicz. “Don’t be mean to the staff at any restaurant or bar.”