Downtown Orlando bars getting ready to reopen, respect curfew

Bar owners and managers preparing to help keep patrons safe during pandemic

ORLANDO, Fla. – Inside The Social bar, a masked employee wearing gloves literally wiped the dust off the bar top ready to reopen as part of Phase 2 after being closed for 12 weeks. It’s owner, John SanFelippo, owning six bars and clubs with more than 200 employees said all of them were furloughed.

“We own the Beacham, The Social, Aero, 64 North, The Patio and Jungle Room,” SanFelippo said. “We are excited, we want to put our 200 employees back to work and we want to get to work as well it’s been stressful for us all.”

He takes us through a few of his bars showing us how they plan to help keep patrons safe during the pandemic, walking us upstairs to the Beacham where tables and chairs are set up and separated on top of the dance floor, part of the Governor’s guidelines that guests need to be seated to be served.

"Our goal is to bring people in let them enjoy themselves but we have to function to keep them safe and not encourage them to dance and get up and go around," he said.

Though SanFelippo can reopen as early as Friday, June 5, he has decided to wait to reopen his six bars until late next week.

"One more week we will get through it get our staff ready and prepared and open up when the time is right," he said.

SanFelippo also waiting because of the current demonstrations and 8 p.m. curfew in place in the City of Orlando.

"We don't think it's right for us to open our business and throw a party when everything else is going on in the world," he added.

Across Orange Avenue, however, the manager of The Lodge and The Woods bars Jose Campos said they will be ready to reopen by noon on Friday.

"We've been ready for months now and we were just waiting for the word to go and we are ready, the staff is excited," Campos said.

From plexiglass to personal protection equipment like masks and hand sanitizers, Campos said the 30 furloughed employees will be ready for work.

They plan to open at noon on Friday and close at 7 p.m. in time for patrons and staff to get home before the 8 p.m. curfew.

The President of the Church Street District, Rosangela said many businesses are excited to reopen but are waiting until next week.

“Our businesses are thrilled to finally have the good news that they can reopen. They are eagerly preparing their reopening and contacting their staff with the good news. It will be a cautious process for many as we are also monitoring the situation with current daily protests and the mandatory curfew. Regardless, they finally have a date to reopen so they can put their anxieties to rest and get their teams back to work,” she said in a statement to News 6.