Even a pandemic could not stop Jason Dolan from celebrating his favorite holiday, St. Patrick’s Day. Every year that means beers and corned beef at his favorite spot, McGuinness’s Saloon in Sunnyside Queens.
“Back home it’s a national holiday, you’d always go out with the family. You go see the parade when you’re younger and when you’re older everyone is off, so everyone goes to the pub and meets up,” said Dolan.
The celebration was a shell of its normal self this because of COVID-19 restrictions. Only 35% capacity is allowed for indoor dining and no one is allowed to sit at the bar. John Basquez celebrates here every year with some Irish coffee and by dying his beard green.
“I come here to have a good time on St. Patty’s. I can’t wait until things get back to normal,” said Basquez.
Although this year's celebration was limited, it's an improvement from last year when the state closed indoor and outdoor dining a day before St Patrick’s Day. The holiday is one of the biggest days of the year for many bars in the city.
“It was a bad dream, and nobody knew what was going to happen. We do know now that it had to happen because of COVID,” said McGuinness’s co-owner John Reilly.
The past year was the worst in McGuinness’s 24 year history. Not only because of the lost business, but because of customers lost. Some moved away after losing their jobs, several died from COVID-19.
“It’s horrific. It’s heartbreaking,” said McGuinness’s co-owner Marie McGuinness. “You think you’ll see them in a few weeks and that didn’t happen. Please, God, there are McGuinness’s up in heaven and they’re having a pint of Guinness today.”
In Manhattan, without the crowds from the St. Patrick's Day Parade, bars like the Peter McManus Cafe did not open in the morning like they typically would on this holiday.
"Usually we do a little Irish breakfast for people before they march, especially for firefighters up the street. Ladder 3 Engine 12 or the 10th Precinct offices, too, plus people in the neighborhood. It’s a festive day that people love,” said owner Justin McManus.
On Friday, bars and restaurants in the city can increase to 50% capacity for indoor dining, another step towards a possible full St. Patrick's Day celebration next year.