Bars open on Saturday night, night two of the Arkansas COVID-19 curfew, requiring bars to be shut down by 11 p.m. Staff and clientele gamely shuffle in, but the new restriction has had a visible effect on the flow.
"It sucks, the 11 p.m. curfew," said Autumn Bohanan, bartender at 1873. "Our clientele tend to be late risers and stay-laters, so for us this makes business a little
As a result, she has to issue last call just a little bit earlier.
"If everyone isn't out the door at 11 on the dot, we get written up," she said. "I hate the whole thing, but I don't make the rules."
Jamie Reynolds, owner of the Railyard Saloon, said the timing of this is not good.
"I'm hoping for the best, prepared for the worst," she said. "This has already affected things for us. I'm a small business; I can handle downsizing. The bigger bars, I'm worried about. As much as everyone wants to see downtown grow, it seems just when we're getting a handle on things, this happens. It has been rough."
"I think it is BS," said Amanda Fultze, bartender at Broadway Sports Bar and Billiards. "I'm glad they have not shut us down completely, the only thing positive to say about it. Downtown is dead already. But my customers are not scared of COVID."
One of her customers said, "The mask is BS. Like putting up a fence to keep out mosquitoes."
At 67 Roadhouse, away from the downtown scene, the mood is a bit more sanguine.
"Well, it doesn't hurt us that much," said "Fluffy" Wade, bartender. "We are a day bar; most of our customers are retirees. We tend to turn in a little earlier. We open at 12 noon and close by 10 p.m. If someone was here who wanted to stay to 1 a.m., we would. But that has not happened in years."
"It sucks," says longtime customer Tina Martin. "This is even worse for places like Crazy Horse, which stays open until 2 a.m. So this is hurting them, especially on weekends. 10.8 Lounge, near the Flying J, this is also hurting them, especially Christie Joe Taylor, the owner."