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Acton’s Bars Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Amidst Covid-19

Today is the day that people dress up in green hats and socks, businesses hang their shamrocks, and patrons stumble for blocks in order to celebrate the Irish. Yet this year is set to be a St. Patrick's day like no other.

St. Patrick's Day was one of the largest, if not the largest grossing day for bars and pubs across Canada, but with COVID-19 restrictions, this year will be unlike any other. Still with that being said, this year is an improvement from what bars and restaurants experienced with COVID-19 last year.

Though it may seem much longer, it was only one year and one day ago today (March 16, 2020) that bars (and business in general) across Ontario had the rug pulled out from beneath them as Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency across Ontario, just one day before St. Patrick’s Day.

“Right now, we need to do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 in order to avoid overwhelming our health-care system,” Ford had told Ontario in his March 17 2020 press conference. “The vast majority of businesses, including those most vital for day-to-day life, will not be affected by this order,” he added “ “Essential services and essential needs will be available to every individual and families.”

Premier Ford had recommended closures for all bars and restaurants, except for those who offered takeout and delivery. Those within the industry were left with no other option but to close for the celebration for which takes massive preparation.

Samantha Shein, owner of the Red Harp Pub in Acton told Acton UP typically they are planning a few months prior to St. Patrick's.

“You got to organize your kitchen, so you got your food, and you got your menus, and you got to do your decorations, but then the beer, you have to order beer and then trying to figure out the volume you’re gonna need”

(Photo: Samantha and Alexis Shein)

Still after all the planning, decorations being placed and alcohol being ordered, businesses were left with no other option but to close their doors for the celebration.

“ We actually closed on our own without being forced to close, because our first concern was the community. So we chose to shutdown on the 15th and the Ontario Government shut us down on the 16th ” said Shein. “It was a scary situation I guess, when we locked the doors on the 15th I didn’t think I’d ever be open again, so making that decision was life changing.”

Andrea Clark, Owner of Tanner's Restaurant in Acton also tells of her emotional time with the pandemic and closures…

“Last year was very sad. Obviously we didn’t know we were going to be closed down, we weren’t thinking like that, so as with every other restaurant we had reservations, we had the beer orders in, all of the food and everything else, and then it was like, you’re done”.

(Photo: Jamie Hill and Andrea Clark)

This pandemic has been rough for a lot of industries, though the dining industry may be one of the hardest hit, with the majority of revenue coming from in house dining and alcohol sales, something that has been drastically reduced since the beginning of COVID-19 restrictions.

“I think the hardest part was getting used to not being open, letting go of the staff, and not seeing our customers every day, obviously they are like friends and family, so it was very hard.” Clark told Acton UP.

Both Owners expressed their gratitude and thanks for the community.

“Honestly we live in such a good town and with all the support from takeout and everything else we’re actually not doing bad at all. I’m very lucky to be in a small town, cause I think if we were in a bigger city I think it would be way harder, but because we have such good support from all the locals and everybody else, it’s not that bad, and I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone still wants to eat, everyone still wants to have draft beer and sit on the patio and do all those things and be social, so if you’re limited to 4 per table, it’s really not that bad.”

The special meals for the special day include Reuben egg rolls, Authentic Irish lamb stew, Corn Beef and Cabbage Dinner, Classic Steak and Guinness pie, Irish nachos and Key lime cheesecake for dessert from the Red Harp Pub. Phone number: 519-853-4147.

While Tanner’s Restaurant’s specials include Jamison BBQ sauce cauliflower bites, corn beef poutine with Dublin cheese, Irish pizza, and for dessert a green Bailey’s cheese cake. Tanner’s Restaurants’s number is 519-853-5231.

If you’d like to join the celebration you can call either restaurant for reservations and/ or take out. The Red Harp Pub also offers a delivery option.


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