Syracuse nightlife struggles to remain afloat through COVID-19

Syracuse nightlife survives pandemic

With large gatherings restricted and bars limiting capacity, the weekend party scene looks different in Syracuse.
Published: November 9, 2020
Beer Belly Deli and Bar on Westcott Street
The Beer Belly on Westcott Street is one of the bars open with limited capacity in Syracuse.

Although SU was labeled the top party school in the nation by The Princeton Review last year, many students search for off-campus opportunities to enjoy the nightlife. For those who are old enough to legally drink, the bars throughout the town of Syracuse are often hotspots on the weekends. While some downtown spots like Kelley’s didn’t survive COVID, some bars are still surviving to see what nightlife is like during a pandemic. 

“Other than people standing distanced from each other [at the bar] and reduced capacity, it’s gradually starting to feel more normal,” David Hoyne, owner of Kitty Hoynes in Armory Square said.

Hoyne shared that while he has his regular customers, there doesn’t seem to be as many students as normal. However, this lack of traffic doesn’t phase Hoyne.

“[I’m] just happy to be up and running again,” he said.

Right now, many students seem uneasy about leaving their apartments or dorms, let alone venturing down to Armory. But others feel pressured to go out, regardless of the environment.

“Rushing as a sophomore I couldn’t go out with my friends the entirety of second semester last year and then we were immediately sent home. Now I’m a junior, I’m making up for lost time,” Newhouse junior Isabelle Garland said.

Garland is freshly 21 and frequents Lucy’s Bar off of Marshall street. Brianna Lennehan has been working at Lucy’s for a year now and is pleasantly excited with how things have been.

“Nightlife is definitely way different, but [it] still has proven to be exciting, with guidelines of course,” she said.

With masks and social distancing rules required, it makes the groups of people going out together much smaller and thus, more intimate. 

While some students may feel comfortable being in a bar environment, plenty feel more comfortable staying in.

“A typical Friday night is having like 6 people over to our house, playing some drinking games and calling it a night,” junior communication student Nora Hill said.

With the number of cases frequently spiking after weekends full of parties, students are left wondering how many weekends we’re even going to have left on-campus.

“We started out really strong, and I think people gradually became more comfortable with going out and seeing different groups of people,” SU junior Allyson Fox said.

Both Fox and Hill believe that the key to flattening the curve on campus is to stay inside. However, they both were apprehensive when asked about future parties.

“I would like to believe people are going to be [smart] after the past couple scares, but I know they won’t,” Hill said. 

Avatar for Kate Regan

is a digital producer for The NewsHouse.