OAKLAND, Calif. - Sports bars around the Bay Area are prepping for the return of professional football in hopes it will boost business.
The Athletic Club Oakland on Grand Avenue finally reopened its doors Thursday, which coincided with the start of the NFL season. The sports bar closed in March in accordance with the statewide shut down due to COVID-19.
“We have a lot of people that are eager to come out,” Aaron Dolores, co-owner of The Athletic Club, said. “We've been looking forward to today since the moment we shut down.”
Dolores said they took their time working with the city to ensure they could close a portion of the street that would accommodate their new outdoor space. “The Town Sports Garden” features televisions wheels, socially distanced tables, and hand sanitizing stations, but it won’t be able to accommodate as many people.
“Inside we could fit more than 200 people,” Dolores said. “Out here it's going to be a lot less so we're definitely concerned, but we're hopeful and optimistic and plan to be here for the next 20 years.”
In Orinda, The Fourth Bore Tap Room & Grill is ready for football’s return, according to General Manager Paul Jones.
“We love the support from the community and all the surrounding cities,” Jones said. “Football brings everybody together. It’s a good reason to smile and for everybody to root for something.”
But some businesses will be missing football’s boost. Rudy DeAnda, owner of The Blue Chip Sports Lounge & Restaurant in San Jose, said his business did not survive the pandemic. The family owned business lasted 13 years, but everything changed in March during the shelter at home order. The months long shutdown dug the business into a hole that he could not get out of, even with loans.
“It wasn't enough to pay off the landlords so the landlords gave us an option to walk away and not have any pay back so we thought that was our best option at the time,” DeAnda said. “It really does sadden me knowing tonight is opening night and we're not able to open our doors.”
DeAnda plans to return to the business in the distant future. He hopes other bars staying open will have enough customers to keep them sustained.
The Kezar Pub, which has been in San Francisco since the 1950’s, is planning to survive through the end of the year. They will add more televisions in hopes of luring more customers on game days to their outdoor space.
Cristina Rendon is an Anchor/Reporter for KTVU. Email her at email@example.com and follow her on Facebook & Twitter: @CristinaKTVU