It’s an uncertain time after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all bars and restaurants must close except for takeout business for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. In northern New York, Plattsburgh’s bars and restaurants are now finding new ways to do business.
When locals picture downtown Plattsburgh one of the first thoughts is the local college bar scene in and near Margaret Street. But the students left after the college closed and business slowed early. Then on Monday Governor Cuomo mandated that all theatres, bars and restaurants in the state close to on-site customers. “The State Liquor Authority is going to change its rules that will allow bars, restaurants, distilleries to sell their products off premises. So whatever you could get, whatever you could order in the bar or restaurant or distillery or winery you can purchase through takeout.”
Area 10 Clinton County Legislator Robert Hall owns Bobby’s Lounge on South Catherine Street. While he says takeout is an option his employees rely on tips that won’t be earned with carry-out customers. “It's going to put an awful burden on myself. No question about it. I'm all right for a while but after a while, I just I won't be able to pay my bills. I mean, that's my livelihood. But saying that I'm not concerned about myself as much as I am about the five girls that work for me. The five ladies that work for me all depend on their salaries and their tips and it's going to hurt them financially. They're very nervous, very upset, and very worried. I have told my girls to go down and draw unemployment. But as we all know unemployment is nowhere near what they make. I mean, it's not even close.”
Irises Café and Wine Bar has been in business on City Hall Place for 23 years. Owner Carol McLean says the new rule is drastically changing how they do business. “We actually had been doing takeout for the last like two or three years. We were using a delivery service prior but now I'm using my staff. So luckily, we already have systems in place for delivery of food. But you know adding the alcohol we've already figured out some ways to be able to put the ice on the side in Ziplock bags you know that type of thing to keep the integrity of the drink basically.”
McLean says businesses need cash help to weather the pandemic crisis and the loans being proposed will only burden them later. Robert Hall wants immediate tax relief. “I’ll give you an example. Sales tax is due on the 20th of this month. We have that money but payroll taxes go on next month because they're a month behind. We don't have that money and that's money that comes in the door. They got to do something about taxes and they got to help my employees.”
The federal government is working on a relief package that could include sending out $1,000 checks to individuals. Governor Cuomo on Thursday said mortgage payments would be waived for 90 days and ordered banks to waive other fees.