Gator’s Easy Wind Pub Adjusts to Serve Patrons During COVID-19

When the government began to shut down businesses in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, bars and restaurants were among the first to feel the economic effect of the pandemic. As retailers and other businesses re-opened and slowly began their road to recovery, bars and restaurants continued to struggle with restrictions on operating hours and customer capacities.

In Marietta, Gator’s Easy Wind Pub celebrated its sixth anniversary in June, after being closed for three months. Times may be uncertain, but the familiar faces around the bar are certainly a welcome sight. According to his daughter, owner Jeff Harris has poured every ounce of his energy into remodeling the building over the past six years. The building had previously been home to the Four Seasons Bar, an establishment with a not-so-positive reputation.  

An outdoor patio behind the pub offers shaded seating

From their extensive renovations and expanded menu, to their participation in downtown events like First Friday, Harris is proud to say Gator’s has earned the reputation as one of the cleanest bars in Marietta, overcoming biker bar stereotypes and past perceptions.

Now the biggest hurdle Harris faces is making it through a global pandemic. With forced early closing times and many patrons still hesitant to jump back into their pre-quarantine routine, Harris and his staff have had to get creative.

“We have changed our operations since the onset of COVID-19 by encouraging social distancing, offering delivery and carryout for food and drinks, and adjusting our hours to be open 11:00 am to 11:00 pm.,” said Gator’s Office Manager and Harris’ daughter, Sara Wilson. “We have also eliminated one entryway to ensure that we do not exceed our maximum capacity of 50 people, which is half of our normal capacity, to adhere to state guidelines.”

Sarah Wilson (far left) and Jeff Harris (center) with their team

Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes can be found throughout the pub, helping Gator’s maintain their squeaky clean reputation. Wilson said they also donated gloves, Lysol, and disinfectant wipes to a few of their regulars that work in local medical offices when they couldn’t find supplies at the beginning of the pandemic. And the patio out back makes it easy for patrons to enjoy some fresh air while they sip on their beverage of choice.

Wilson and Harris hope that the community will feel safe returning to bars and restaurants more frequently this fall. “It’s crucial for folks to support our local bars and restaurants during this time because if we have no customers or support, it will be impossible to keep our doors open,” said Wilson. “We have overcome every challenge we’ve faced thus far and with the community’s support, we know we can do it again.”

In April, Ohio Governor DeWine signed an executive order allowing Ohio businesses with a liquor permit to sell up to two alcoholic drinks per meal for takeout or delivery. In June, legislation passed in the House to permanently allow Ohio establishments to sell alcoholic beverages for carryout or delivery, or to drink in adjacent parking lots. (The bill, House Bill 669, is currently pending approval in the Senate.)

To make it easier for patrons to support Gator’s throughout the pandemic, the bar now offers carry-out drinks, coffee, six-packs – even gift cards. Wilson said she hopes the community will use this opportunity to pick up their next six-pack from a local bar instead of a big box grocery store or gas station.

“If the public wants to be able to visit local bars and restaurants after the pandemic, we must all do our part and support those businesses during these difficult times.” If you haven’t visited Gator’s Easy Wind, why not show your support and try a new local spot at the same time?