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New Regulations Creating Challenges, Hurting State College Bars

Bars in downtown State College have already been forced to adjust to new rules and regulations ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit last spring.

Now, they’re facing a brand new challenge.

In addition to a mandate forcing bars to operate at or under 50% capacity, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all bars and restaurants must stop selling alcohol past 11 p.m. nightly.

Restaurant and bar owners across State College have seen a huge impact on their bottom line. Chris Rosengrant, owner and operator of The Lion’s Den, weighed in on the impacts of his business.

“Most of our business is done between the hours of 10 p.m. and one or two in the morning,” Rosengrant said. “Even though our capacity has increased to 50%, it really hasn’t increased that much with social distancing.”

Although the maximum capacity inside of bars was eventually increased to 50%, Rosengrant said that he’s seen fewer students coming to bars after the alcohol sale law passed.

“I see more of people having parties off campus,” he said. “Our business is absolutely being redirected. The restrictions are just pretty devastating.”

Curtis Shulman, director of operations at Hotel State College and Bill Pickle’s Tap Room, said all bars in State College are facing the same struggle from the new law.

“It definitely took an impact on our bottom line,” Shulman said. “Not so much during the week, but Friday and Saturday is a pretty valuable business timeframe to lose. When you take away those last three hours of business, it hurts us more than it helps us.”

Shulman also doesn’t see much of a change with the increase in capacity.

“It sounds great on paper, but we really only get a few more seats with social distancing,” Shulman said. “The impact of increased capacity turned out to be pretty minimal. We haven’t seen much of a benefit from that. Until we get bar seating back, we’re going to have a challenge to thrive.”

The majority of most restaurant and bar sales come from football weekends during a regular year. Despite thinking that people would still travel to State College for football weekends this year, Shulman still feels that wouldn’t have much of an impact on the bar scene.

“My gut instinct says there’s still gonna be a decent amount of people coming to town even though they can’t go to the game,” he said. “I think the bars and restaurants will still be busy, but there’s only a minimal opportunity to get much additional sales. Saturday’s in general are fairly busy anyway, even with the restrictions. There isn’t a huge opportunity gain.”

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected].

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