Bar and restaurant owners asking to stay open past 10 p.m. for Bills game

Charles Molineaux
Updated: January 13, 2021 04:52 AM
Created: January 12, 2021 10:55 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Restaurant and bar owners in the Rochester area are hopeful that an appeal to the state might let them stay open for all of the Saturday night Buffalo Bills game, instead of having to close at 10 p.m. as they’re currently required to.

“Why would you want to leave at half time? That seems like an insane thing to do,” declared Bills fan Michael Teawinkle of Ontario. 

He says he'd sooner skip going out altogether rather than watch only the first half of a night game, and then leave if his favorite sports bar has to close before the game is over, even though he loves the sports bar experience. 

"I want to be able to share it with people,” he explained. “I want to be able to see it with people, kind of like what they have in the stadium, under certain regulations, I think we need to be able to stay out here.” 

At The Coach sports bar in Webster, owner Fritz Sierk says he's been seeing slow nights as football fans opt to stay home because coronavirus restrictions here in a yellow zone mandate bars and restaurants close at 10 p.m.  

“They didn't bother coming and see the first half if they had to go home,” he said, adding that it got even more painful when fans' excitement over the Bills started picking up and they did come out. 

"Two weeks ago, it was the first time they were interested,” he recalled. “And we actually had some kind of crowd. And we kicked them out at 10 o'clock. It was awful."

The city of Buffalo and some Erie County lawmakers have now appealed to Gov. Cuomo to extend the coronavirus curfew, at least for Saturday night so Bills fans can get out and enjoy an entire game in their local restaurants and watering holes… and struggling sports venues can get some badly needed business.  

"I'd love to be open till the absolute end,” Sierk said, “I'd kick them out right after the game. I would love to."

The city of Rochester, which is considered in an “orange zone” is asking the state simply that restaurants in the orange zone be allowed to serve indoors at all. 

Under state COVID-19 rules, orange zone restaurants can only serve takeout, delivery or outdoors.

Sierk says while he'd like a change in the curfew, which would help him, he doesn't think it would go far enough for his fellow businesses.

"They’d be catering to the bars that are actually open when the bars that are closed wouldn't get anything out of it,” he observed.

News10NBC has asked Monroe County and the City of Rochester if any plans are in the works to join the Buffalo area’s appeal to extend the curfew. So far, there has been no response.

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