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Buffalo restaurant owners help local businesses navigate COVID-19 pandemic with plexiglass barriers

The owners of Sidelines Sports Bar & Grill are using their handmade plexiglass barriers to help maximize business for others due to COVID-19.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Neighbors helping neighbors, what better time for good deeds than during a pandemic?

For many industries, the struggle to stay afloat over the past seven months has been just that, a struggle. Owners and managers across all industries have had to get creative to find ways to generate as much revenue as possible, as safely as possible.

Aaron and Hillary Collura own Sidelines Sports & Grill in Downtown Buffalo and say as soon as they could seat people indoors, they were on a mission to figure out how they could make the most of their space in a profitable way within regulations.

Which is how they came up with the idea to create more space by making handmade plexiglass barriers that are easy to move around, but weighted so they stay in place. The barriers are also in accordance with CDC and state guidelines so customers don't have to worry.

"These aren't replacements for masks or social distancing, these are added measures that have helped us get more business and the feedback from our customers is what made us keep going," Hillary Collura says. 

According to New York State re-opening guidelines for the food service industry, "Wherever distancing is not feasible between tables, physical barriers must be enacted between such tables. Barriers must be at least 5 feet in height and not block emergency and/or fire exits."

"Originally we had wooden sticks that were placed onto the bar area to keep 6 feet in between," Hillary Collura said. "But when we saw we could only accommodate four or five guests at the bar utilizing those sticks, we needed to figure out how can we get more people in here and do it safely."

Thanks to word of mouth, local industry friends and even competitors started calling asking for a few of their own. Now, there are at least 15 different businesses in the area that are now using the Collura's creation - Curtiss Hotel is just one of them. 

One hotel guest tells 2 On Your Side, "what they've done here and other places we've frequented is make people feel comfortable again, whether it's because of distance or by putting up these barriers."

Hillary Collura says, demand is growing, especially with winter creeping around the corner and they're happy to help. 

"We want to see other people do well, we want to see other people survive," Hillary Collura says. "Because if others do well, ultimately so do we."