The night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest nights for bars and restaurants, but this year they may find their tables empty.
Business owners in the Lehigh Valley say they’re devastated over the Wolf Administration’s decision to ban on-site alcohol sales at bars and restaurants from 5 p.m. Wednesday until 8 a.m. Thanksgiving.
They were preparing to serve at 50 percent capacity. Now they’re scrambling for other ways to make revenue.
"Honestly I was thinking, 'oh boy, this is the end,'” Kurt Keck, owner of HiJinx Brewing Company, said. "I'm going to be open for takeout. I'm going to be open for the two hours, 3 to 5 p.m. I'm going to try to get as much revenue in as I possibly can, but it is a big hit."
Keck is just one of countless owners of establishments the state banned from serving alcohol on Thanksgiving Eve in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as cases continue skyrocketing.
"I can only have so many people in here from two to five. I mean, I could open earlier but it's one of those things that people are still working. I'm hoping that take-out is very profitable tomorrow,” Keck said.
At Big Woody's Sports Bar and Restaurant in Emmaus, Manager Devon Leister had the tough job of breaking the news to the employee who was planning to be the busiest.
"I had a bartender who was looking forward to making a lot of money tomorrow night, and I unfortunately had to tell him, ‘sorry,’” Leister said.
While restaurants must stop serving by 5 p.m. Wednesday, employees at 1760 Pub N Grille in Trexlertown hope customers come out for the early bird special instead.
"I'm hoping tomorrow during the day. I know a lot of people usually tend to leave work around noonish Thanksgiving Eve, so hopefully some people want to come out during the day and celebrate,” Manager Sarah Scandola said.
This is the second major party night of 2020 that restaurants, bars, and breweries lost out on, with St. Patrick’s Day being the first.