Bridget Gordon has been in the Utah bar business for many years. She was a manager at the Port O’ Call before launching her own bar. The Port O’ Call was by far Utah’s most famous bar, but was forced to close down due to the Government Services Administration (GSA) choosing the Port O’ Call lot and building to build a Federal Courthouse.
Gordon launched the Green Pig Pub in 2009, knowing well that Utah lawmakers and decision makers have an enormous amount of power over the fate of her business, so she has always been extremely careful following the rules.
On November 9th, Utah Governor Gary Herbert imposed the mandate that everyone wears masks inside of businesses (including restaurants and retail); he further mandated that all alcohol sales cease after 10 PM.
“We make most of our money after 10 PM, this mandate has made it impossible for me to not lose money,” said Gordon, who has been a leader in the Utah Bar business. Besides the Green Pig Pub, Gordon is a partner in two other bars in Ogden.
Green Pig’s rooftop patio right in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City has made the Pub famous, but the State’s measures of once again forcing business closures is having a devastating impact on even the most successful bars downtown.
Gordon said that she knows of other bars that cater to the dance club crowd that were failing to follow the state guidelines for social distancing and limiting occupancy.
On a Friday evening in mid-October, the White Horse Spirits and Kitchen was carefully following all of the safety protocols: limiting occupancy and mandating all social distancing rules. But as we walked around the crowded Main Street, Twist Bar was packed full of young people inside and outside, following no rules or guidelines. After 11 PM, we witnessed the Green Pig Pub following all of the guidelines and limiting capacity.
Why didn’t the State just punish only the dance clubs and bars that were violating the protocols and allow the rest of the bars to remain open?
Jeff Oaks, Salt Lake County Health Department’s Food Protection Bureau Manager, told KSL News, that alcohol consumption lowers inhibition and people forget to wear masks or maintain physical distance. “The thinking was,” he told SLARA members, “if we limit alcohol, we can increase adherence.”
Gordon is not optimistic that the rule will be gone when it is set to expire on November 23rd. “I’m almost certain they are going to keep all of the restrictions in place,” she told Utah Stories. If the measure is still in place she is uncertain if they can remain open while Utah remains in “red” and she knows that likely other bars will be closing down, at least until things improve.
Nationwide far more bars and restaurants are being forced to close and lay-off more of their staff. With the US currently reporting more than 172,000 cases of Coronavirus per day, the state mandates are producing a repeat of what happened in the last Spring.