Pubs prepare for fewer customers as St. Patrick’s Parade is cancelled

Megan’s Bar + Kitchen (Photo: Beth Dedman)


Bartenders and owners at Irish pubs are facing the reality that the historic St. Patrick’s Day parade is cancelled amidst coronavirus fears, cutting into profits on one of their biggest business days.

On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee postponed the NYC tradition to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, not long after Boston and Dublin both cancelled their parades on Monday. Chicago officials also elected to postpone their parade and river-dyeing ceremony on Wednesday.

Cuomo reported on Wednesday confirmed 212 cases of the virus in the state, with 48 in New York City.

Many Manhattan bartenders were already preparing, as best they could, for the parade to be cancelled, particularly those near the parade’s route on 5th Avenue.

Shane McSorley, who works at Connolly’s Pub and Restaurant on 47th Street, thought the parade cancellation was inevitable just before Cuomo made it official.

“With the cancellations in Dublin and in Boston, and the WHO (World Health Organization) declaring it a global pandemic this morning, I think it is just a matter of time when they announce the parade is cancelled,” McSorley said.

Connolly’s will likely have fewer staff working that day than they normally would, McSorley said. St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most important days of the financial year for them and the cancellation will undoubtedly hurt their business. 

Accounting for the lack of customers is a daunting task because bars have to stock up before the holiday either way, not knowing if they will make the same money they usually do, said Jim Gallagher, a manager at Molly’s, an Irish pub and restaurant on 3rd Avenue.

“It could be a good day, or it could be a disastrous day,” Gallagher said.

Owen Cleary, a bartender at M.J. Smith’s Food and Spirits on 45th Street, said they have already had to cancel some of their parties and events at the bar. There have been fewer tourists coming into the bar, which has already made them lose some money. 

The staff at M.J. Smith’s are continuing to run business as usual, but they are noticing the downturn in customers.

Despite the growing number of cities cancelling parades, some pub workers hoped that New York City’s unique resilience would keep the tradition alive.

Pauline, a hostess at Megan’s Bar + Kitchen on 45th Street, did not think the parade would be canceled, but she also thinks that the cancellation will not keep their customers from celebrating their Irish pride. 

“There’s enough Irish in New York that built this city into what it is, they’ll continue to show up for it,” Pauline said. “We just got to stand together and make it through this. We just got to be strong.”