Owners express happiness, relief that bars are open for first time in months

Greenville

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Many bar owners in Eastern North Carolina opened their doors for the first time in months on Friday.

North Carolina dropped its statewide curfew and is letting bars serve customers indoors again.

“It’s just been really tough to go into Walmart and Lowe’s and restaurants where nothing has changed,” said Rob Waldron, co-owner of Club 519 in Uptown Greenville.

It’s been lights off and empty bar stools since March for 519. Waldron says the bills are adding up.

“Just imagine all the expenses that are fixed,” said Waldron. “Rent payment, building payment, some amount of electricity that has to stay on.”

Now, the neon signs are on and Waldron is back in business.

“I’m almost afraid that it will be more than we can handle,” he said.

Waldron said reopening comes with challenges. He has to staff a bar that’s been closed for nearly a year.

“Some of them I haven’t talk to in months,” he said. “Some have just left permanently. There’s a few that are still in town but have other jobs.”

A.J. McMurphy’s was also having to make arrangements on short notice.

“Just trying to mentally prepare your staff to be at work three hours longer than they have been,” said Summer Evans, manager at A.J.’s.

Evans is excited for two extra hours of sales. She’s hopeful alcohol sales will help fuel food sales.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily going to shift dinner time, but it may increase the late-night snacks,” she said.

Owners ask people frequenting bars to have patience and follow guidelines.

“If we tell you that you can’t come in or tell you to do something, don’t be mad at us,” said Waldron. “It’s just the rules as they are now.”

You still need to wear a mask if you head Uptown. The mandatory mask mandate is still in effect.

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