When talking about nightlife in Omaha, to say there has not been a lot going on during the last few months would be an understatement.
You’d have to have been living under a rock not to notice your favorite neighborhood bar has had a “Temporarily Closed” sign hung up on the window. Maybe you had plans to enjoy the spring weather on a patio bar somewhere or had tickets to a live show and were looking forward to having a couple of drinks with friends.
At this time a year ago, most of us would usually have a calendar full plans, at events around our city. Unfortunately we have found most of these scenarios canceled or postponed due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Rewind to my January 2020 article and its anticipation of spring events and outings; I never thought I — or we — would be in this position.
A lot of bars and restaurants have closed around the metro since the middle of March or have been operating according to the state’s rules on how to maintain and serve loyal customers during quarantine. Adaptability has been key for our local businesses and it’s been nice to see Omahans pull together and support them. I myself have gotten “To-Go” margaritas, growlers and cocktails from a number of establishments that I had planned to frequent this spring. It has been an experience to shake, stir and slurp those libations at home, all the while making sure my go-to local hideouts stay in business.
Scriptown Brewing Company, nestled in the heart of the Blackstone District right off 40th and Farnam, is just one of the many local bars around the city forced to switch gears and figure out how to survive in the time of “LA CORONA.” When the state ordinance to close all bars became mandatory, Scriptown created an online menu to keep serving their customers. “It’s been tough,” a spokesperson for the bar said, “we essentially had to lay off our staff and rely solely on our loyal customer base for online orders on growlers, mule and alcohol packages.”
Community efforts and loans from the government have helped to restart the economy and pay staff at local bars and small restaurants around the city. June 1st the state of Nebraska allowed bars to reopen. According to the Department of Health and Human Services of Nebraska: “Bars will be allowed to operate at a maximum 50 percent occupancy at any given time.”
Take for example our friends at Scriptown; Their main taproom which usually holds 129 people will allow 25 people, their back patio will allow 12 people and they are opening up their Kaufmann Room which will allow additional seating for up to 36.
Also, establishments must observe six feet of separation between seating for different parties as well as a maximum of six individuals per party (groups larger than six will need to split into multiple tables).
Bars will also prohibit bar seating and will only allow table seating. Scriptown must rearrange and get rid of tables in order to open. The brewing company will allow people to order at the bar just as long as patrons don’t hang out there. “The guidelines of the health mandates are all new of course, and we are working hard to make sure we are all ready to go with them,” the Scriptown rep said. “The most important part of this, though, is the safety of our customers and staff.”
Summer will definitely be a learning curve for Omahans who are looking to get out of the house and return to a normal routine. I, for one, am excited for things to start feeling normal again, but I am hesitant as well. As much as I would love to rewind to the carefree days when I didn’t have to worry about being close to someone at a concert, handshaking or hugging a loved one when I run into them the reality is we still need to be cautious and exercise awareness and safety. Luckily, most bars like Scriptown will still be pushing online ordering and grab n’ go sales, allowing those who may not yet feel comfortable to venture out for a night on the town.
Our summer plans may have changed, but look for some normalcy coming to a bar near you, folks. There are plenty of ways to socialize this month even if going out is not for you. Remember to have fun, drink responsibly, tip your bartenders and stay healthy. Instagram @thebuzz_thereader for live updates and info on drink and bar specials. Message us your favorite bar suggestions, which could be featured in The Buzz.