Traverse City Bars Open at Midnight Opportunity

Governor's Announcement Allowed 12:01 am Opening

Bars, restaurants, and retail now have the green light to open their doors to open across most of northern Michigan and all of the U.P.

In Traverse City, just a couple of bars took the leap and opened right after midnight. We found the Sail Inn and Brady’s ready to go.Bar 2

Brady’s owner Nolen Sleder wasn’t quite sure what to make of the flurry of preparations of the past week.

“Am I crazy?” She laughed. “No, I’m excited!”

For more than two months, the only names behind the bar have been names like Jack Daniels and Jim Beam.

But that’s all changing.

The lights are back on at Brady’s Bar in downtown Traverse City after the Governor’s announcement earlier in the week that allowed them to open for business.

But most bars are not.

Sleder said the Monday announcement came as a bit of a surprise.

“We really didn’t expect it, especially right before Memorial Day weekend. This is such a busy time, people are obviously going to want to come up here.  A lot of places I think have said that they know a lot of people are coming up from downstate and they don’t want to risk their staff. My staff has taken the precautions that are necessary and we are asking that people police themselves and we keep it as local as possible.”

Brady’s does have some new rules for this new world. They don’t want you to come in if you’re not feeling well, and if you’re not from Northern Michigan they’re asking you just to stay away – for now.

Sleder welcomes the business, but in due time.

“If you live in a section that hasn’t been opened yet, there is still a stay at home order and we are asking that you respect that we are open and those sections aren’t. And if you’ve been up here in quarantine, please come and join us. But we’d like to keep it as local as possible if you haven’t been living here already.”

Bar 3Luann Rozga from Traverse City was one of the first in line at Brady’s. She also wants to see it kept as local as possible.

“I don’t want down(state) people to come up here, I really don’t. It’s not their time yet. They’ve got to wait a couple months before all the tourists come up here. I hate that we are opening up on this weekend. That’s good for our businesses but, I think we do good on our own with just local people.”

The new rules state occupancy can’t exceed 50% of capacity. At Brady’s, that means no more than 42 people inside. About 30 were ready to come in at midnight and put their money on the bar.

Zack Clark from Traverse City came with a group of friends.

“We come here all the time. Chicken wings, good beer, pool tables. It’s a good place to go.”

His friend Ben Rogers agreed, saying, “We looked at a bunch of Facebook pages just to see who was posting about it. And see who was going to open if anybody even was going to open. We saw Brady’s was opening and trying to be as safe as possible about it so we decided to come here tonight and check it out and see what it’s going to be like.”

Sleder hopes she doesn’t have to enforce the rules with an unruly crowd.

“As much as I feel like an elementary school teacher, you have to stay in your seat. It is necessary right now. We’ve gotten rid of a lot of tables, our capacity is limited to what it needs to be and if you can’t find an “X” on the floor or a seat, I’m sorry we can’t have you in the building right now. I’m just hoping people are receptive to the fact that we have to make changes. And please respect those. And if you can’t then we will have to ask you to leave because if we don’t follow the rule for one person then none of us get to be here.”Bar 6

People we talked with weren’t complaining about the rules. Most just seemed to be happy to able to venture out into the world again.

Nick Marco says, “It feels great. Spent two months locked in an apartment just wishing I could do something, you know.”

There’s a pep in the step of the wait staff – and service with a smile, even if you can’t see it under their face masks.

Marco usually works the kitchen, but tonight he’s keeping count of how many people are coming inside. And he says he recognizes a vast majority as regulars.

“It’s a breath of fresh air, it’s like the world coming alive again. You know, it’s like, the weather gets better. You see all the people you love, and you just share that kind of unspoken bond I guess you would say. To me that means everything.”

Categories: Coronavirus