St. Patrick’s Day celebrations give much-needed boost to NJ bars and restaurants

New Jersey restaurants are trying to mount a comeback as they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for the second time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suspenders in Union Township is stretching out the holiday through the weekend in the hopes of drumming up more business. There will be live music, Irish step dancers and the Union County Drum Squad.
“It’s been tough, but we’re happy that we’re heading in the right direction,” says Joseph Tona.
Tona has been in the restaurant business for 30 years. He has poured his heart and soul into Suspenders and he says that he is hoping that New Jersey has finally turned a corner in the pandemic.
Other restauranteurs feel the same way.
“In a way, we’re thankful that we got through the last year. It’s been hell, it’s been hell for everybody,” Kilkenny's owner Barry O'Donovan
A cold beer on this holiday has become a little taste of heaven.
“This year I don’t have to make a cry to sell 2,000 pounds of corned beef. People can just come and have it and the Guinness is flowing,” O'Donovan says.
Last year it went to waste – 15 kegs – as restaurants were forced to shut down right before St. Patrick’s Day.
In the business 40 years, O'Donovan says Kilkenny’s would probably be closed if not for those federal loans. But he says that he is feeling hopeful again. He says over the last couple of weeks, he's seen a little jolt in business.
“They’ve all just got vaccinated, so they feel comfortable coming out,” O’Donovan says.
New Jersey restaurants will soon be able to operate at 50% indoor capacity, which should lead to another boost in business.
But the owner of Suspenders says that if it stays this way for too much longer, they will have to shut down. The manager says that 75% gets them to survival mode.