A crack runs down the middle of the restaurant’s 200-year-old wall mural – a small reminder of when a terrorist group bombed the building in 1975. Each room of the tavern – and there are many – is steeped in history and tradition.
One room boasts the Dingle Whiskey Bar, named lovingly after a town in Ireland. Another portion of the tavern includes a handcrafted fireplace and a chandelier imported the Emerald Isle. An old musket sits atop a mantle in yet another one of the historic restaurant’s renowned dining rooms.
Fraunces Tavern is a renovated historic building and restaurant located on Pearl Street in New York City’s Financial District. The oldest restaurant in the city, it was built in 1719 and has been operating as a tavern since 1762. The restaurant has toughed it out in the city that never sleeps for over 250 years, through the American Revolution, Hurricane Sandy and much more.
Fraunces Tavern’s owner, Eddie Travers, spoke with the Daily Caller about the one thing that could bring the city’s oldest restaurant down – Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 restaurant restrictions. Cuomo announced a ban on indoor dining earlier in December, just as winter rolls through the Big Apple.
“He [Cuomo] always talked about the science … This is not scientific,” Travers said of the indoor dining ban. (RELATED: ‘Killing Us’: NYC Restaurant Workers Beg Cuomo To Ease Restrictions On Indoor Dining)
Just 1.43% of COVID-19 cases are coming from restaurants and bars, according to statewide contact tracing data. Households and social gatherings, on the other hand, account for almost 74%.
Travers said Cuomo’s indoor dining ban is “driving people into that … danger area” and argued that restaurants are far safer than households.
“When you go into a restaurant, you know, we’ve got air filtration systems, we’ve got social distancing, we’ve got cleaning going on,” Travers noted. “Nobody’s house has it. It really doesn’t make sense. I can’t, for one, cannot figure out why he would do that. In my opinion, he should be encouraging people to go to restaurants, where it’s safe.”
Fraunces Tavern continues to try and make ends meet amid the ever-changing COVID-19 regulations. They’ve built a small outdoor dining center with seven tables and heaters. The restaurant now offers food and drink deliveries and they’re trying to boost merchandise sales.
Normally, the inside of the tavern can hold about 400 people, Travers said.
“[We’re] just trying to make any sort of revenue,” Travers told the Caller. “We also opened up a craft beer bottle shop so people can come in and get their rare craft beers and take them home with them. But still, even with that, it’s not enough to keep us going, but hopefully in the future when things get better it’ll be a nice addition to what we do.”
Travers also discussed the possibility that he may have to lay staff off around the holidays due to the indoor dining ban. He said they’ll be okay until January 1, but after that, it’s up in the air.
“Outside of here [the restaurant], I don’t get much sleep,” Travers said. “It’s very stressful. It’s a lot on our shoulders, which we’ve never had, and it’s really about our staff, our families and our staff’s families. To have that sort of burden is very tough. It’s been very stressful. It’s not been easy.”