The coronavirus pandemic has continued to affect our daily lives in ways that would have seemed unthinkable only a week ago, and now, the fallout has extended to St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday, which celebrates Irish culture each March 17, is the biggest day of the year for sports pubs around the country. But planned festivities are now being put on hold due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
Today, Rossa Flood, the owner of Boca’s Irishmen Pub, made the difficult decision to voluntarily close down on St. Patrick’s day, cancelling what is annually the most important day of the year for his business. He spoke to Boca magazine about the decision, and how the pub (which happens to be a favorite haunt of this writer) intends to move forward in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
Can you tell us about the decision to close down for St. Patrick’s Day?
Well, the decision comes from a purely health and safety standpoint. I think that bringing that many people together in a closed environment–and a lot of our guests can be on the more senior side for St. Patrick’s Day– isn’t a good idea. I just don’t want to risk any of our guests’ or any of our staff’s health. That’s my biggest concern.
Was it a voluntary decision to close?
As of now it’s voluntary. I’m not sure if down the line the city or the county will mandate closing, but I just wanted to get out ahead of it, and I think it’s the right thing to do.
What happens after St. Patrick’s Day?
The plan is to be back open on Wednesday, in accordance with whatever guidelines are in place, be that in only a take-out capacity, or a limited seating capacity. We’re going to encourage guests to sit on our patio because they’re saying it may be a better option to sit outside than be in a closed space inside. We’re just going to continue with our safety standards, with sanitizing and cleaning, and keeping on top of that.
Are you doing anything differently in terms of sanitization?
Well, sanitizing has always been a priority. We’re just keeping up with the standards that we’ve always maintained. We have a professional cleaning crew every night. We’ve always had that, and we’ll always continue to have that. We’re wiping down menus between each use, the silverware is being rolled by employees wearing gloves, and basically it’s the same standards we always keep to.
How significantly do you think this is going to impact your business?
It’s huge. It’s not a decision I came by lightly. It’s my biggest day of the year by 300% or 400%, and it was a big decision to make, but ultimately it’s the right decision to make.
What would things look like at The Irishmen if you’re able to open back up, but only in a limited-seating capacity?
I think we can work with that going forward. I’m very, very lucky that we’ve had a very successful business here for eight years, and we’ll weather the storm and come out on the other side, and be just as successful as we were in the past.
What’s the best case scenario for you with this ongoing situation?
Best case scenario is that maybe they close everything down for two weeks and let this thing run its course, and be done with it. We can plan for that. The worst case scenario is that nothing happens, and business slowly declines and dwindles, and there’s no plan going forward. This is difficult to plan for, so I’d like to see some decisive action from the government or whoever the local authority is that takes care of that.
Have you been receiving a lot of communication from the City of Boca about this situation?
We have some communication with the city, yeah. I think the lines of communication are definitely open, and as of right now, they have not enforced any mandatory closures. Maybe that will change in the future.
Is there anything you’d want to say to customers who were planning on being here tomorrow for St. Patrick’s Day?
Well, first of all I’d like to say that I’m sorry, and second of all I’d like to say that we’re going to reschedule a big party for some time in the future. We’re going to celebrate, it just won’t be on the day. But we’re going to celebrate some time in the future.
The Irishmen, 1745 NW Boca Raton Blvd, Boca Raton; 561/368-1129; https://irishmenpub.com/