The big game brings a big boom for some restaurants that have been hit hard by the pandemic.
“Last year, we did 10 cases of wings. Each case is 40 pounds. I’m anticipating we do 14 or 15 cases,” Kurt Geyer, who manages Big Woody’s in Allentown, tells 69 News. “We still deliver until 2 a.m.”
As bars and restaurants continue to deal with state restrictions, like curfews and capacity limits, adhering to CDC guidelines and implementing safety measures has become status quo.
“Masks must be worn at all times when you’re walking through the restaurant,” said Lia, who helps manage P.J. Whelihan’s in Bethlehem. “We have sanitizer stations.”
The restaurant industry employs more than half a million people in Pennsylvania. According to the U.S. Department of Labor and Industry, that number shrank nearly 30 percent over the course of 2020.
“I understand, with COVID, what they’re trying to do with the restrictions, but it hurts,” Geyer says. “It really does hurt.”
As part of a larger COVID relief package, last week Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation that makes $145 million available to fund grants of up to $50,000 for restaurants, bars and hotels with fewer than 300 employees.
As bars across the state remain empty and dining rooms are sparse with customers, it’s unclear at this point when restrictions may be lifted.
“It is definitely quieter this year but, we’re still having positive thoughts and positive vibes,” said Allie who works at P.J. Whelihan’s.
For many in the hospitality industry, money from the state’s relief package can’t come soon enough. According to CDC data, about 40 million Americans have been vaccinated. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, more than 1 million people have received an initial dose of vaccine.
“We’re definitely trying to keep our spirits up and make sure we have a good night, stay busy and just hope for the best,” Lia says.