Downtown Pittsburgh eating places hopeful that new state liquor regulation will assist enterprise – WPXI

PITTSBURGH — Downtown restaurants are really looking forward to the holidays to help business, but some owners are worried they won’t maximize this time of year because their employee count is so slim.

“We are struggling, we got two floors so you need a lot of bartenders for two big bars and for the holidays, you have a lot of holiday parties and we just don’t have enough staff to be able to handle it,” said Len Semplice, the owner of Redbeard’s Sports Bar and Grille.

Redbeard’s Sports Bar and Grille on Sixth Street usually staffs about 40 employees but right now, they have about half that going into the holiday season.

Next door at Gaucho, they are operating with fewer workers than normal.

“For us specifically, staff probably at 35% staffing levels right now we definitely need to increase a lot. Unfortunately, we can’t open for lunch,” said Anthony Falcon, the owner of Gaucho.

As for food and supplies, both owners said they are at the mercy of what’s available which means they are paying a lot more.

That’s why some families dining out now may see some items on the menu costing more than usual.

“Steak is through the roof. Prices are just insane,” said Falcon. “We have transferred some of that cost on. We just keep it as reasonable as we possibly can, and we try to maintain the quality.”

Channel 11 learned that a new bill Governor Tom Wolf signed Friday can help some restaurants. The bill allows restaurants to extend the area in which they are licensed to serve alcohol in a seating area to within one thousand feet of their location.

“I think it helps us tremendously like in the summer and even now it gives us ten extra tables that we don’t have inside,” said Semplice.

Redbeards added outdoor seating during the pandemic and plans to keep it around during the colder months.

“For the winter, we are going to put a little cabin out there. We are going to call it mountain watering hole to sell warm drinks out there during the winter,” said Semplice.

The bill also gives the PLCB the ability to issue eligible licensees unlimited off-premise catering permits and an additional year of safekeeping, and allows a licensee that closes permanently to sell their liquor and wine to another licensee.

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