Rich Howells

VIDEO: State Street Grill in Clarks Summit discusses COVID-19 impact on bars and restaurants

VIDEO: State Street Grill in Clarks Summit discusses COVID-19 impact on bars and restaurants
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Pennsylvania bars and restaurants have been able to reopen at 50 percent capacity this week, but some small businesses may never fully recover from the effects of COVID-19 and the shutdowns.

Scranton video production company TwentyFiveEight Studios has been examining the true impact of the coronavirus pandemic on this industry and how mitigation was handled in 2020. They sat down with Tom Hill, the owner of State Street Grill in Clarks Summit, for an honest conversation about what his restaurant has been through and the struggles that the public doesn’t always see.

The description of the 13-minute video reads:

State Street Grill has been a fixture in Clarks Summit, PA for 20 years. Throughout that time, it has been a meeting place for NEPA residents. Owner Tom Hill has dedicated his life to being a successful member of the community for his business, his family, and his employees. This is just one story of many. This is their story.

On March 17th, 2020, the state of Pennsylvania ordered a statewide shutdown of all “nonessential” business, including nonessential stores, gyms, salons, bars, and restaurants, except for takeout offerings. Almost 9 months later, these businesses are still struggling with no reasonable help in sight.

While Governor Tom Wolf has approved more grant money for businesses affected by COVID-19, those funds are often snatched up quickly and may not be enough to save every business that requires aid to stay afloat as debt piles up. Operating at limited capacity under heavy restrictions (like alcohol sales ending at 11 p.m.) is not a sustainable business model, and as Hill noted, bigger businesses like Home Depot have been allowed to remain open with large crowds while small businesses have been forced to close.

The virus is very real, however, as doctors, nurses, and those who have contracted COVID-19 can confirm. COVID-19 has caused 272 deaths out of 9,452 total cases in Lackawanna County (8,285 confirmed and 1,167 probable cases), according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

State Street Grill has heated outdoor igloos where they can seat customers in a safer contained environment, but as cases rise, that may not be enough to convince people to come out. Patrick Nasser, co-owner of the Backyard Ale House in Scranton, discussed similar problems in another video uploaded by TwentyFiveEight last week:

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