By Kassie Simmons | March 17, 2021 at 7:09 PM EDT – Updated March 17 at 8:54 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – St. Patrick’s Day is typically a time of gathering for parades and parties, but the pandemic changed all that.
“Last year, we were here, we were ready to go,” said Laura Richardson with the The Joyce Irish Pub & Grill. “Then, the governor came on and said we were going to have to close everything down around five, so we definitely had to shift gears. We canceled music, we canceled pretty much everything.”
A tough year for so many bars and restaurants led to some tabs closing for good. Now, lifted restrictions has these pubs seeing green again.
For the owners of The Dubliner in Wilmington, the celebration is two-fold. Not only can they stay open until 11 this year, but they’re celebrating 20 years of business — a milestone they didn’t always think they would reach.
Like other bars and pubs, the last year has been tough to stay afloat with various restrictions. Luckily, having a large outdoor space for guests kept The Dubliner open.
Now a year removed from the first lockdowns, this popular gathering spot for St. Patrick’s Day credits its loyal customers for keeping it’s doors open.
“We were definitely struggling,” said Potts. “We lost a lot of customers due to the fact that we couldn’t seat them indoors — I mean, it’s 40 degrees. But thankfully, all of our guests keep coming back.”
Those guests are coming back by the hundreds. Potts says they’ve been preparing for this holiday for three months.
“We’ve added a lot more seating and spaced it out; we’ve got hand sanitizer stations at every door and bottles of hand sanitizer at every table,” said Potts. “We’ve got a handwashing station outside now.”
COVID-19 has led to other changes as well.
“We used to have bagpipers, Irish dancers, face painting,” said Chris Williamson, general manager of Slainte.
But there is still plenty to make Irish eyes smile. Slainte, The Dubliner and The Joyce all offer live music on St. Patrick’s Day. The Dubliner also raffled off a few bar favorites, including a foosball table and a dart board. To St. Patrick’s Day fans, that sounds like a pot of gold — if you can call 2020 a rainbow.
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