Blaming COVID, Pasco bar owner plans to give up dream

For some small businesses, the pandemic is making it nearly impossible to stay in business. Pete's Grand Central in New Port Richey is one of them.

The popular bar and arcade among locals in downtown New Port Richey, is now in its final days of business. 

"I was super bummed. I think it's a terrible shame these small business owners are losing their livelihood and having to close their doors because of what is happening," customer Kendra Boisvert said.

Pete's Grand Central opened back in 2018 serving as a bar as well as an arcade and antique shop.

"I was chasing the vision of 'Cheers' and that's how it's all started and one day it all came together," Martin said.

It's was owner Pete Martin's dream come true. He says business was going great until the pandemic hit, shattering his St. Patrick's Day plans.

"It was a little bit devastating. I bought a lot of alcohol. It was one of the biggest drinking days of the year and that was the end of that for a while," Martin said.

In March, Gov. DeSantis ordered the shutdown of all bars and restaurants. Eventually, they were allowed to re-open, but at limited capacity. More trouble came when the city passed an ordinance closing down Railroad Square's outdoor, socially-distant wet zone where Martin's bar is located. The zone has now re-opened, but only a few days week and not long enough for Martin to turn a profit.

"I was a little devastated because they allowed people to open with a restaurant and I feel like we as bars got discriminated against because we don't have food," Martin said.

Martin prepared to open up a kitchen decided to apply for a restaurant license, but the state has a four-month backlog, making it nearly impossible for Martin to stay afloat.

"Everybody deserves an opportunity. A lot of lives are at stake here in terms of being able to survive. Give the bars the opportunity to allow it to happen. If they don't abide by the rules then shut them down," Martin said.

Martin plans to be open for a few more weeks before he officially shuts down on September 15.