When bars shut their doors early in the pandemic, Tigerland bars weren’t receiving any revenue, leaving owners in a tricky situation.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused most students to head home and avoid large gatherings and social events throughout the majority of the summer and fall semester.
Now, as bars are able to allow patrons inside, owners must still adhere to safety guidelines imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Tigerland bars are still suffering because there is a limited capacity of people allowed inside, and they must remain seated throughout the duration of their visit. This gradually reduces the amount of people who are allowed inside, resulting in tanking sales.
Jeff Vaccaro, owner of The House in Tigerland, said it’s been difficult during the pandemic to make ends meet.
“We took a pretty big loss in 2020,” Vaccaro said. “We received some aid from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) but it barely scratched the surface of what was needed to make the bar industry whole.”
Although his business did suffer, Vaccaro took the opportunity to renovate his bar during the pandemic, which could help him attract more people in the near future as restrictions are slowly lifted.
Darin Adams, owner of Reggie’s and JL’s, said that he too suffered from a difficult year.
“We took a substantial loss,” Adams said. “We did get a couple of PPP grants from the government. That was just a drop in the bucket.”
Bar owners must now rely on the upcoming football season and fall semester to help them recover from the losses they took this past year.
“People are coming back but we can only have a seated capacity,” Adams said. “We can only have as many people as we can fit, socially distanced.”
Adams hopes that larger crowds will be allowed inside soon.
“It’s better than being closed but we’re far from 100%,” Adams said.
As the semester comes to an end, a sense of normalcy is returning to Tigerland. Each bar can now stay open until 2 a.m. In the past few weeks this later closing time has brought out large crowds of students, a sight which hadn’t been seen since the onset of COVID.