Special Report

Forget Restaurants: Here’s How the Coronavirus Is Changing Bars

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the hospitality industry hard. Starting as early as mid-March, bars and restaurants across the nation were shut down by executive order — closed to indoor dining and allowed to serve food (and sometimes alcohol) only for pickup or delivery. Many establishments found it impractical to do so, and many iconic eating places have gone out of business entirely — these are 50 popular restaurants that won’t reopen after the pandemic.

As for bars and lounges, there have been fewer reports of permanent closures, perhaps because drinking establishments tend to have lower overhead than full-scale restaurants, or perhaps because they’re often neighborhood hangouts with only modest reputations. 

However, because they are usually smaller than restaurants — a definite disadvantage in these days when social distancing shrinks the number of customers that can be accommodated — and because the whole attraction of bars usually depends on the opportunities they provide for social interaction, they may find it more difficult to rebound. 

Thus far, restrictions on bars and restaurants in the vast majority of states have now been largely or partially lifted, according to a guide to state reopenings and lockdowns published by the Wall Street Journal.

Much has been written about how restaurants have met the challenges posed by the current crisis, by 24/7 Tempo and otherwise — here, for instance, is a report on 20 ways restaurants are upping their takeout game in the coronavirus era — but how are bars coping? More importantly, how will the effects of the pandemic change the bar-going experience?

Forget restaurants. Here’s how bars will be different after the coronavirus.

24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of 14 ways bars are going to change, or have already in some cases. Some of these changes might be temporary, fading away once COVID-19 is no longer a threat, but others might endure for as long as people like going out to drink.

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