MILWAUKEE - Bars from Milwaukee to Racine and in between are preparing for St. Patrick's Day. Some are hoping for a good turnout, while others are just happy to be open.
It was nearly a year ago that Mo's Irish Pub in downtown Milwaukee closed one day before St. Patrick's Day 2020. The pub is opening this week with plans to party Paddy, within some self-imposed limits, over several days.
Safety and capacity limits are top of mind as the St. Patrick's Day weekend nears. If walls could talk, those at Mo's wouldn't have much to say.
Now, as patrons belly up to the main bar, the other two in the building prepped for several days of festivities starting next weekend.
"It’s been a wild year," said Katie Hubert with Mo's. "Because of our safety plan, we are at full capacity. Although we took it upon ourselves to limit it. So we have 400 per day."
Mo's Irish Pub, downtown Milwaukee
Mo's is offering $20 VIP packages ahead of the three days of celebration -- which includes a mask. Temperature checks and hand sanitizer are free to all.
"Very big deal, and that’s what we’re trying to make it as safe, socially distanced as possible," Hubert said.
St. Patrick's Day 2021
In Racine, streets would normally feature a parade. With that canceled amid the ongoing pandemic, a pub crawl will be held at 17 spots -- including Pepi's Bar & Grill.
"I’m really looking forward to Paddy’s Day; getting people down here to see that it’s not as bad as people think it is. Or that it’s made out to be," said owner Joe Madison.
Pepi's Bar & Grill, Racine
Madison and his wife have owned Pepi's for 10 years. The last year, he's seen business drop by 60%. The owner said he's fortunate he has the space to spread people out.
While not in opposition to the pub crawl, the Racine Public Health Department is urging patrons to consider the risks, saying just because you can doesn't mean you should.
Madison is hoping for a good showing.
"See that people are still here, that people are still surviving and trying to make it work," Madison said.
Madison is hopeful things will return to some sort of normal as more people are vaccinated and the pandemic is brought under control. However, he thinks there are things that will stick around -- or not stick around, like menus.
The pandemic is changing how businesses operate and, seemingly, how people may have to safely party.
Statement from Racine Public Health Department:
"The Public Health Department asks that individuals seriously consider the risks of going out and celebrating on or any holiday. Just because you can, does not mean you should. However, if you do, please remember that masks are always required in establishments except when specifically eating or drinking, that you should keep socially distant from those not in your group, and to carry hand sanitizer or wash your hands frequently while you are out. The Health Department would also like to remind bars and restaurants that they must abide by the capacity limits that are set in place, and enforce social distancing of patrons, as well, as the use of masks by both their customers and staff members."