Closer to normal: WNY community enjoys first weekend after mask mandate for vaccinated people is lifted

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The pandemic created many challenges for small businesses, especially in a small business strip like the Elmwood Village, where several shops closed. But some new ones also opened up.

Now that guidelines are more relaxed and people seem to be getting comfortable going out again. You could say the restaurant Jack Rabbit opened up at the perfect time.

“Somehow we managed to completely allude covid it seems and open at the exact time everyone is ready to come out and start enjoying the world again,” said Jack Rabbit co-owner Josh Mullin.

The last time a business was at this spot was back in 2015 when it was J.P. Bullfeathers.

Mullin says he and his business partners picked this site because it’s right in the heart of the Elmwood Village.

And since they opened last week, the support from the community has been overwhelming.

“It’s been fantastic. I mean we had a line down the street our fist couple of nights,” said Jack Rabbit co-owner Jack Monti. “We wished we could’ve had more people in there and we look forward to when covid is officially gone and we can pack the place.”

“People are excited to not have to wear a mask to not be able to walk around, by somebody a drink. It’s these things that are such an intricate part of Buffalo culture and people just haven’t been able to do that for the last year and a half, and now suns out, masks are off, and people are having a great time,” said Mullin.

Which is a big difference from last year, as more people are going out and eating at local restaurants again.

“We’re definitely getting there. To be able to walk around and see people on the patios and people are still respectful of the guidelines,” said Elmwood Village Association President Therese Deutschlander. “It is really great to see there’s definitely life returning to Elmwood and there’s more life being added to it.”

The same could be said about Hertel Avenue. The North Buffalo neighborhood was also busy with people making their way to shop, eat and enjoy their Saturday.

“It feels really good to be back into normalcy,” said North Buffalo resident Caitlin Mulcahy, who added that she’s fully vaccinated. “We feel really good about it. We feel comfortable and I just love seeing other people out and about enjoying North Buffalo.”

Currently, state guidelines do require unvaccinated people to wear a face mask inside restaurants before being seated.

This is the first weekend bars and restaurants can keep their outdoor sections open past midnight.
Indoor dining will have its curfew lifted on May 31.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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