While well-intentioned, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ order that all Wisconsin bars shut down at 5 p.m. on March 17 had the opposite impact in some cases — it resulted in more people jamming their local taverns for the last time in a while.
That was the case at Daly’s Bar & Grill, 1086 Emerald Terrace, where patrons — once learning of the governor’s order — jammed around the bar inside Daly’s for one last shot — like Katie Kapler — or a beer.
Or corned beef and cabbage, as Amy and Jim Anderson enjoyed on St. Patrick’s Day at a table just off the bar area.
People crowded around signs that read, “Try to stay 6 feet apart” — a humorous reference to social distancing directives already issued by Evers and federal officials in relation to the COVID-19, or coronavirus — and clearly ignored as patrons huddled together around the horseshoe-shaped bar.
The irony of the closure on St. Patrick’s Day was not lost on Steve “Scuba” Daly, the owner of Daly’s, who had a difficult time with the edict.
“Obviously, I’ve been very upset,” Daly said just minutes from the mandated closing time of 5 p.m. at Daly’s. “I just know that my employees are going to have a hard time paying their bills, I’m going to have a hard time paying my bills. I understand this virus is very serious, and we need to take precautions. However, possibly there could be alternative solutions. And I would hope we would investigate some of them as alternatives to crashing our economy.”
On Wednesday, Public Health Madison Dane County reported a 23rd case of coronavirus in the county. PHMDC repeated strong hand-washing directives and asked that people not leave home unless absolutely necessary.
Daly said he knows it’s not just his business that is suffering. “When it comes down to it, it’s really crashing people’s personal economics, their personal finances, and their ability to pay their rent, their electrical bill — whatever it is,” Daly said. “If we could just come to some sort of solution that could solve both problems to stop the spread of the virus, but also crash the economy, that would be ideal.”
Daly said he’s going to make a run at full menu food deliveries and doing takeout orders, but that most of his staff of 25 will be laid off.
“Not everyone, but almost everyone,” Daly said, referring to staffers to be laid off. “But I cancelled my food order this week, so when we run out of stuff, we run out of stuff.”
The closure is a far cry from a normal St. Patty’s Day at Daly’s.
“I’d have to look,” Daly said when asked what a normal Daly’s St. Patrick’s Day would earn, “but I’d say $7,000.”
On Tuesday, he figured, “Nowhere near that — maybe $2,000.”
The owner admitted with a grin that traffic picked up at Daly’s after the order was announced.
“It did — everybody was trying to support this place because I guess they have a feeling of personal belonging to this place,” Daly said. “So they came to try and support me, which is great. And I appreciate them, and I appreciate the business they give me.
“And I know they’ll come back after this is over,” Daly said. “I think I’ll survive.”
Daly estimated a minimum of three weeks before things could return to normal, but it could be months.
“Weeks I could survive,” Daly said. “Months — I think months would put almost any small business owner out of business.”
But Daly said he’s optimistic. “I just hope a solution can be found,” Daly said, “that can solve both problems — it stops the spread of the virus and can keep the economy going.”