Bars, restaurants reopen in Crawford County, much of state

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Jim’s Bar Manager Scott Shulka enjoys a friendly chat with customer Mitch Lindner Tuesday. (Photo by Ted Pennekamp)

By Ted Pennekamp

 

Most bars and restaurants in Crawford County reopened on Thursday, May 14 after the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted 4-3 May 13 to strike down a portion of the state’s stay-at-home order. The court ruled that Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm exceeded her authority with her sweeping order. The portion of the order closing public and private schools was not struck down and the schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year due to COVID-19.

“From my perspective, I’m nervous and I’m anxious and I still have some concerns,” said Jeff Bowar, president of the Crawford County Tavern League and the owner of Leisure Time Sports Bowl and Banquet of Prairie du Chien. “We’re gonna follow the state guidelines with masks, six feet apart, hand sanitizers, etc. We’re fortunate to have a bar big enough to be able to do that.”

Bowar said he’s glad to see bars and restaurants open again after having been shut down at 5 p.m. on March 17.

“It’s the person’s choice if they want to go into a bar or not,” said Bowar. “I’m really happy to see that all the local taverns are able to reopen.”

Bob’s Bar of Prairie du Chien reopened at 10 a.m. on May 14, offering its customers a buck a beer special while the beer lasted. Beer distributors had taken back most of the beer after the shutdown order and needed to re-stock bars and restaurants on Friday and Saturday, May 15-16.

Bars and restaurants in Crawford County can be open without any restrictions, and many have resumed business the same way they did before the shutdown. 

Some counties have imposed restrictions, but most have not. During the shutdown, many restaurants offered carry out.

“I’m just sick of being closed down for so long,” said Bob’s Bar owner Jeff Hallberg on Thursday. “With this (the bar business) being nonessential, people should have had the choice if they wanted to come in or not. Some people (bar and restaurant owners) might not be able to recover. I’m glad to be open.”

Scott Shulka, the manager of Jim’s Bar in Prairie du Chien, said he got word the night of May 13 that they could reopen immediately, but they did some last-minute cleaning and opened at 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 14.

“We’re happy to be back and happy to see everyone,” said Shulka. “Go out and have fun but be safe.”

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