Lincoln Bars Find New Normal for Social Distancing

June 9, 2020, 6:30 p.m. ·


Many bars in Nebraska were allowed to reopen with social distancing restrictions starting June 1st. While things aren’t quite normal one Lincoln bar owner is glad to be back for financial and social reasons.

Matt Taylor owns two Lincoln bars: Tavern on the Square and The Other Room. When both bars closed due to COVID-19, he moved all staff to salary and had them come in a couple hours a week to make repairs at the bar.

Eventually Taylor had to furlough some employees. But now the bars are now back, starting with a soft opening for friends and family last weekend.

“We got bills. So I would be lying if some of reopening was not based financially," Taylor said. "But most of our staff has stayed on, and actually, this week we’ve rolled everyone back on...that becomes kind of expensive, so we gotta sell some stuff soon.”

When the bar opens to the public this weekend, tables will be six feet apart and drinks will be served by table service instead of customers ordering at the bar. To make sure customers practice social distancing, Taylor and his manager created a new position called a float.

“I guess it’s a hall monitor," Taylor said. "We’re barking at people when they’re conversing in between tables. We welcome people to come, and they can go to the bathrooms, they can wave hello at other tables...but our job as a float is to make sure that people are staying with their groups.”

Taylor thinks bars reopening during this time of protest is important because he sees bars as a place where ideas are exchanged.