Downtown Rochester bar closes amid COVID-19

The owners of Richmond's on Richmond Street in Rochester posted on social media Saturday that they would be closing due to the restrictions and guidelines being placed on New York establishments. (WHAM photo)

(WHAM) - "Sorry we're open."

For more than three decades, Richmond's has operated under a tongue-in-cheek apology - a lighted sigh with those words. The sign now sits behind a window that has been shuttered.

The popular downtown Rochester bar has closed, citing the coronavirus pandemic. The decision was announced on social media Saturday, inviting patrons for a final drink that night..

Since COVID and the rules imposed on bars we tried to make a go at it but are no longer going to be able to keep the doors open.

"It was the perfect storm of everything going wrong," said owner Andy Kernahan. "It's always sad when you start out to do something and you don't succeed"

He said the "perfect storm" began with the cancellation of Rochester's St. Patrick's Day parade because of COVID-19. The holiday is his biggest day of the year for sales. Then came the loss of March Madness and restrictions such as reducing capacity and requiring patrons to purchase food along with their drinks.

"We used to do 10 cases of chicken wings a week. Now, I'm pulling maybe three," said head chef Cory Gefell. "That's a huge difference. You just see your business decline."

According to a recent study, nearly two-thirds of all restaurants or bars in the state could be out of business by January if additional aid is not brought to New York.

"It's not just because we're a bar that we're hurting," said Kernahan. "Everyone's hurting."

He said he might have been able to stretch things to remain open if there was some indication of when capacity and other restrictions would be lifted.

"If we had some information that maybe in a month these regulations would loosen, then maybe we would be able to make it," he said.

On Monday, he joined employees in packing and moving bar stools to his other bar, Kerney's Pub in the North Winton neighborhood. He'll take his head chef and the infamous recipe for chicken wings with hopes of riding out the pandemic during another critical season for sales: the holidays.