Metro Detroit bars aim for busy but safe, socially-distant St. Patrick's Day celebrations

Posted at 5:29 AM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 12:46:22-04

Large crowds, busy pubs and shared kegs of green beer, it's fair to say St. Patrick's Day isn't the easiest celebration to make COVID-friendly, but that's not stopping Detroit bars from giving it a go.

Related: Detroit bartender shares tips, rules for those celebrating St. Patrick's Day

Wednesday marks the second St. Paddy's Day during a pandemic, and this time, they're open, despite operating at half capacity.

Owners are hoping people show up and spend big but stay safe, as the celebration was nearly dark for the industry in Michigan last year, so today is a symbolic step, but it's also a test – can bars balance a big celebration and a big payout with 50% capacity.

Nika Hans and her brother, Michael, manage Greenwich Time Pub is downtown Detroit.

“As far as carry-outs go, if nobody is working down here we’re not really generating any revenue," Michael said.

They were closed for St. Patrick's Day last year, but in years prior, people were standing shoulder-to-shoulder.

“Everyone was excited about it and we would have green beer and people would come and go all day and it just can’t be like that," Donika added.

PJ's Lager House in Corktown is a staple, and in addition to having taps open on Wednesday, PJ's will be serving classic corned beef and taking extra steps for safety.

“50% would be 75 people and we can’t social distance at 75 people, so I’ve restricted the number to 50," PJ Ryder said.

In a non-pandemic year, PJ's is known for it's live music, something bar-goers expect, especially on St. Paddy's Day. Today will be another test for Ryder's shift to his business overall.

“We won’t be able to do music for a while still so right now we’re pivoting into trying to become more of a restaurant than we were before," he said.

There were decent-sized crowds over the weekend for pre-St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Some people were celebrating early, so that could make for more manageable crowds.