Bars preparing to reopen, hoping for crowds and profits

At bars across Downtown Orlando, wells are being cleaned and taps are being flushed after sitting unused for the better part of the year. 

“I’m exhausted! It’s been a taxing six months,” said Aaron Dudek. 

He and his business partner own Burton’s in Thorton Park and The Lodge and The Woods on Orange Avenue.  While Dudek sat down with FOX 35 News, his business partner was busy cleaning Burtons as they get ready to re-open their doors. 

“Well we have a long weekend of decluttering and cleaning up,” Dudek said. 

They’re cleaning and sanitizing anything customers will be touching.

A beer truck was sitting out front of the bar on Washington Street, delivering kegs to bars up and down the block.  Dudek said they are handling inventory a little differently. 

“It seems like we’re going to have to order real light until we get some more money in the bank.  We’re not going to be able to spend like we did on one big delivery day. We’re going to have to get delivery every couple of days,” Dudek said. 

Like a lot of bars, they’ve got a lot of Irish Whiskey on hand, since the state initially shut down all establishments on St. Patrick’s Day after they had all stocked up for the holiday.

Dudek said when his customers return, his staff will be making it clear that they’ll be following the state’s rules. 

“You can’t walk in any of our venues without a mask. And if you walk up and you don’t even have a mask on you, anywhere, we don’t allow you in. we’re not going to give you a mask because the second you come inside then you’re just going to be that guy that argues. So we’ll tell you to go somewhere else,” Dudek explained. 

With 50% occupancy, social distancing, people having to wear masks any time they step away from their table, and seating required, things are going to be different.  He’s hoping they’ll make a profit. 

“Labor costs are very high because we have to double the staff just to get people to follow the rules because people do not want to follow the rules,” Dudek said. 

He and his partner are working with neighboring bar owners, setting a local standard. 

“We all want to handle the occupancy in the same way so it’s universal here in this area so they don’t say they let me do it down there why can’t I do it here.  We’re going to try not to let that happen,” Dudek said.

He put a full kitchen into his bar The Lodge, which been back open for two weeks.  On Friday, he just got his food licenses for Burton’s and The Woods.  So, instead of waiting until Monday.  He will be opening up Sunday, just in time for football.