BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York has imposed a curfew on bars and restaurants since November of last year.

What You Need To Know

  • The mandated closing time for bars and restaurants in New York is officially no longer in place
  • The owner of a Buffalo establishment is relieved to see the curfew go
  • However, he will keep some COVID safety protocols in place

The mandated closing time started at 10 p.m. and eased first to 11 p.m. and then midnight over time. However, Brandon Carr, the owner of The Quarter in Buffalo, said even that restriction was difficult with 65% of his business coming late night.

"It was a dramatic loss,” Carr said. “But fortunately, we were still able to have a really nice dinner service and provide a good quality service during that time, and that got us through everything.”

The Quarter was part of a lawsuit with roughly 90 other bars and restaurants and got two brief reprieves when a judge temporarily lifted the curfew, only for it to be restored both time on appeal. Carr said those rulings helped, but in general has been a vocal critic of the governor's COVID mandates.

"It's been a very difficult and challenging task to really change with all the climate of what's been going on," he said. "The different regulations, different policies. Everything that's happened over the last year and a half. One of the biggest blows to us was putting curfews in place.”

As of Tuesday, those mandates are largely gone. Capacity is back to 100%, vaccinated customers no longer need to wear masks and the curfew is gone. In Buffalo, that means The Quarter can stay open until 4 a.m.

"We are going to start staying open back to 4 o'clock in the morning, probably not every night,” Carr said. “You know, during the week we'll probably close around 2 o'clock but definitely Thursday, Friday, Saturday we'll be open right until 4 o'clock.”

The owner said the change happening on Tuesday made for an easier transition than in the past, when rules have changed on weekends. The state also lifted the curfew for outdoor drinking and dining in mid-May.

"Any little bit is better than nothing at all," Carr said. "One of the challenges that we faced during that was, at 11:55 we'd have to say, ‘Everyone get out. Bring your drinks and go outside,’ which was a little strange, and a little awkward and uncomfortable to do."

Carr said some COVID safety protocols will remain in place, like partitions at the bar, a non-vaccinated section where customers will continue to wear masks and his staff, at least for the time being, will continue to wear masks as well.

"Everyone's mind has changed," he said. “I don't think everything will ever go back to the way it was, but it does feel like we are back."

Carr said he expects a big late-night crowd in the early going that will likely taper off a little bit after a few weeks.