ARIZONA NEWS

Restaurants and bars had to adapt to survive amid COVID-19 pandemic

Mar 19, 2021, 4:55 AM | Updated: 7:35 am
(Facebook photos/Rusconi’s American Kitchen,  Cobra Arcade Bar)...
(Facebook photos/Rusconi’s American Kitchen, Cobra Arcade Bar)
(Facebook photos/Rusconi’s American Kitchen, Cobra Arcade Bar)

This story is part of KTAR News’ “Pandemic in Arizona: One Year In” special report on 92.3 FM, online and our app.

PHOENIX – Restaurants and bars across Arizona had to constantly adapt or risk going out of business amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to closures and continuing restrictions from state and health leaders, two business owners told KTAR News 92.3 FM it has been a challenge to keep their businesses alive.

“Owning your own businesses is difficult as it is, but having to deal with the pandemic, it has obviously been a big obstacle for us,” Ari Bracamonte, owner and co-founder of Cobra Arcade Bar in downtown Phoenix, said.

Before the pandemic struck, Cobra Arcade was known for long lines, a crowded dance floor and dozens of arcade games at the disposal of patrons. After voluntarily closing at the beginning of the first Arizona COVID-19 surge, the bar is now a much more toned-down version of what it once was.

“It’s challenging to train the patrons that know us as a place to dance and move around and play games into sitting down and having to treat this place like a seat-in experience,” he said.

The bar installed plastic barriers, now serves pizza and had to remove dozens of games to make room for tables and chairs. Aside from that, Bracamonte now asks his employees to test for the virus frequently to ensure the bar is safe for employees and patrons.

At Rusconi’s American Kitchen in northeast Phoenix, owner Micahel Rusconi said he had to put chairs and tables into storage to keep up with health protocols.

Despite Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s recent order lifting occupancy requirements, both businesses are still only able to operate at 50% capacity since they continue to follow social distancing guidelines and space does not allow them to safely allow more people in.

Rusconi described his overall experience amid the pandemic as one of the most difficult things he’s done, but it wasn’t so much the pandemic’s impact on his restaurant.

Instead, he was concerned about his employees’ well-being.

“I care about all the employees that we have in the building,” Rusconi said. “It was important to me that they didn’t struggle financially.”

The reservation-driven restaurant now has takeout orders as an option and imposed a 2-hour limit on reservations, only opening its doors Wednesday through Sunday Night.

Now with the arrival of vaccines, both owners have high hopes for the future.

“I hope to be right where we were before the pandemic started,” Rusconi said. “Robust business, extremely popular award-winning restaurant that people really appreciate.”

At Cobra Arcade, Bracamonte yearns to once again see people dancing, playing video games and having fun.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Facebook File Photo/Lake Pleasant Regional Park...
Luke Forstner

Valley expert shares lake safety tips for Memorial Day weekend

People looking to cool off at a lake this Memorial Day weekend are asked to do so safely after a string of drownings.
5 hours ago
VR equipment and a version of the TASER 7 that utilizes VR technology for training, is demonstrated...
Taylor Tasler

Phoenix Police use virtual reality headsets to train for calls in the field

The Phoenix Police Department is one of the first law enforcement agencies in the country to use virtual reality to provide officers training in the field. 
5 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Fan Fusion,  Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for The Latin Recording Academy...
KTAR.com

Weekend guide: Here are the biggest events around the Valley for May 27-29

Need something to do? Here's a look at some of the biggest events happening around the metro Phoenix area for the weekend of May 27-29.
5 hours ago
(ADOT Flickr Photo)...
KTAR.com

No Valley freeway closures planned for Memorial Day weekend

Drivers won't have to worry about scheduled closures on metro Phoenix freeways this Memorial Day weekend, ADOT said.
5 hours ago
Marcos Anthony Herrera and Anthony Michael Murray (Scottsdale Police Department Photo)...
KTAR.com

Scottsdale police arrest 2 men in string of robberies, burglaries

Scottsdale police arrested two men who are allegedly responsible for at least 12 separate crimes across metro Phoenix, authorities said Thursday.
5 hours ago
Jose Dioicio Buelna. (Arizona Attorney General's Office Photo)...
KTAR.com

Arizona man sentenced to 5 years for selling fentanyl

An Arizona man was sentenced to five years in prison last week for his role in a drug trafficking organization, authorities said. 
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Christina O’Haver

Stroke month: Experts call attention to stroke prevention

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to in April

April brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Suns and Diamondbacks.
Restaurants and bars had to adapt to survive amid COVID-19 pandemic