BUFFALO, N.Y. — After months of having to close early, bars and restaurants can now stay open past midnight. On Monday, the state's coronavirus curfew was lifted.
"That's not only going to be beneficial for us, but just about every bar in the industry in Western New York," said Sports City Pizza Pub Vice President Michael Rizzo.
Rizzo along with more than 90 other Western New York restaurant owners sued the state earlier this year over the then 11 p.m. curfew.
"We've gone through changes of 10 p.m.,11 p.m., back to 10, to midnight, back to 10 p.m., it's been honestly, it's been exhausting trying to keep up with all the news with how much the state and the lawsuit kept changing things which seemed like a weekly basis. The fact that this is all finally behind us honestly just breathes a sigh of relief," Rizzo said.
Earlier this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted curfew restrictions on outdoor dining but now all restrictions have been lifted, which means there is no set time when restaurants or bars have to close.
"The advantage right now for everybody is that everybody can pick and choose their time. There are bars and restaurants and nightclubs that need to stay open till 4 a.m. to survive, but in our situation in food and food service and just having that late night crowd, not having to kick them out at a specific time is very very positive for all of us," said Santora's Pizza Pub & Grill Owner Paul Santora.
With the curfew lifted, you would think many restaurants might immediately extend their hours. However, both Santora and Rizzo said staffing needs to be in place first, amid an industry-wide staffing shortage.
"We are very open to changing our hours, now we just need to make sure we can get that late night staffing back and make sure we're ready for hopefully a bum rush from the public after 11 p.m. tomorrow," said Rizzo.