By Greg Argos

LEVITTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — A local bar owner on the brink of financial collapse says Harrisburg needs to step up and a recent aid bill isn’t enough. He believes $145 million in grants does not cover the struggle and relief tavern and bar owners need, and he’ll tell leaders more during a special hearing Wednesday.

Pre-pandemic, Tuesday night at McStew’s Irish Pub in Levittown was packed. But this is what it looked like today.

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“It’s devastating to watch the crumbling of your business,” Tom Tyler said.

Tyler is the owner, he’s run this business for more than a decade and says the pandemic has been difficult for all in the hospitality industry, but especially those who run bars and pubs.

“If you are a restaurant, closing at 11 p.m. is generally not an issue for you. Closing a bar at 11 o’clock is a massive issue,” he said. “If you really look at the mitigation efforts, they were targeted to bars, period.”

His saving grace has been a bottle shop where customers can purchase beer and other beverages to take home.

Tyler is also the president of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.

“We represent over 400 individually-owned bars,” he said.

And on Wednesday he’s testifying in front of the Statehouse Commerce Committee in Harrisburg.

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“Asking that there be further assistance and frankly, faster assistance,” Tyler said.

He’s spoken with bar and pub owners across the state, mom and pop shops many teetering on the edge of collapse if they haven’t already.

“I’ve got some attention by telling these really true, hard stories of what these lockdowns have done.”

Wednesday’s hearing begins at 10 a.m. It will be held virtually via Zoom, and Tyler says some of these stories he’s collected from bar owners throughout the state will help how decisions are made for these restaurants and bars during this pandemic.


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