The city of Dallas has officially canceled the annual drinking bonanza that is the Greenville Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade amid novel coronavirus concerns, and that might actually be a good thing for the neighborhood’s restaurants.
The parade, which was expected to attract over 125,000 drunken revelers to the neighborhood, was called off on Wednesday in an attempt to “avoid the further spread of coronavirus,” according to the Dallas Morning News. Generally, the loss of 125,000 potential patrons is a tough pill for restaurants to swallow, but some restaurant owners in the area weren’t devastated by the announcement.
“People aren’t looking for fine dining on parade day, so it really doesn’t impact us,” Rapscallion co-owner Brooks Anderson tells Eater. “I actually work as a front-door bouncer to keep the wasted drunks out, and had a dude try to fight me last year.” Up until this point, even despite ongoing coronavirus concerns, all of his group’s Dallas-area restaurants, including Boulevardier and Veritas Wine Room, have remained busy.
And in a normal year, canceling the parade might be a major boon to the restaurant, but a global coronavirus pandemic changes the calculus somewhat. At present, he anticipates that business will ultimately be down as many people engage in social distancing and notes that his team has scheduled emergency meetings to address hygiene with restaurant staff and implement new protocols that will help mitigate anyone’s risk of contracting coronavirus at any of these restaurants.
Popular Greenville Avenue bar the Libertine praised the city’s decision to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day parade in a Facebook post, still inviting drinkers to come out on Saturday. Greenville Avenue Pizza Company has also refused to let the cancellation get in the way of its plans to serve pizza and green beer on Saturday. “No parade? No problem,” the restaurant wrote on Facebook. “We will still be celebrating.”
The logic here does make some sense: Most of the people who show up for the St. Patrick’s Day parade are already well on their way to drunk, which means that they’re more likely to to stand outside yelling in the streets than spend lots of money at the neighborhood’s bars. And more than that, the crowds are so thick during the St. Patrick’s Day parade that it’s impossible to get a table anywhere, and as a result, people who would normally drink or dine in the neighborhood are scared away.
Off Greenville Avenue, beloved Irish pub Trinity Hall is also “cautiously optimistic” about turnout this weekend. “We know it’s not ideal, but it’s definitely better than many other places in the world, and we are looking forward to serving the guests who do come by,” a rep for the bar tells Eater. “We also think that within Dallas there are sufficient numbers of St Patrick’s Saturday traditionalists that will want to be out and about, and with the loss of capacity with the street party cancellation there will be more patrons looking for a pub like Trinity Hall.”
For drinkers who plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day despite the parade’s cancellation, just remember that the city of Dallas has banned “community gatherings” of more than 500 people as of 11 a.m. on Friday, and is encouraging “vulnerable populations” to stay at home right now. Check out the Dallas County Health and Human Services’s full list of social distancing recommendations here.