Kay Meyer was more than ready to reopen her bar Thursday afternoon.
Like other bar owners throughout Iowa, Meyer, owner of 5:13 at 513 S Grand Ave. in Spencer, has had to keep her establishment closed to guests since March 17.
That was the day Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered restaurants, bars and many other businesses to close to the public as part of a declaration intended to slow community spread of COVID-19.
A later order allowed bars and similar establishments, such as breweries and wineries, to sell drinks to-go. Even if bars chose to go that route, it still wasn’t the same without customers bellying up to the bar.
“It was hard,” Meyer said Thursday afternoon. “I miss my customers. I just missed a lot of it. The socialization.”
Bars, like restaurants, still have to follow guidelines as set by the governor’s latest proclamation. That includes limiting the number of patrons in indoor and outdoor seating areas to 50% of capacity and trying to keep people socially distanced.
Meyer’s wasn’t the only bar itching to reopen Thursday.
Inside Sneakers Sports Lounge, located on the second story at 600 N Grand Ave., bartender Jessica Kreiss had just opened at 3 p.m.
“It’ll be nice to start seeing everybody again, you know, friends you haven’t seen in a while, all the locals,” she said.
It had been over two months since Kreiss last reopened Sneakers. She said she had to stop at certain points to remember how, exactly, she was supposed to get everything inside bar ready.
There’ll be a few extra duties on her plate as she bartends. Kreiss said she’ll be sanitizing often and making sure everyone is staying six feet apart.
“It’s a pretty big space up here, so it’s pretty easy to do,” she said.
At 5:13, Meyer has moved around tables so that they are spaced 10 feet apart. She said there’s space for 10 people, each separated by six feet, at each table. She’s also placed signage everywhere and has hand sanitizer at all three of the bar’s doors.
5:13 is open 3-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3 p.m. to about 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
“I’m expecting a good night tonight and the weekend,” Meyer said.
Sneakers also opens at 3 daily Monday through Sunday with variable closing times.
Kreiss encouraged people to go out and support bars.
“Get out and about,” she said. “Come up and support your local businesses.”
Century Farms Distillery featured on Spencer Weekly
Century Farms Distillery, 2304 Hwy Blvd. in Spencer, opened its tasting room for the first time Thursday after being limited to drinks to-go orders.
Distillery owners Ryan and Amanda Bare are this week’s guests on the Spencer Weekly podcast. We spoke to them about how their business has navigated the pandemic, including their partnership with West O Beer to make hand sanitizer.
You can find that episode when it’s released Friday here or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Feature image: 5:13, 513 S Grand Ave., was open Thursday for the first time in two months. (Photo by Kevin Brown)