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Patrick Tierney of Royal Oak processes payments at Gusoline Alley in Royal Oak.

Hallelujah.

That was Sue Burrows' reaction to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's recent announcement that the 11 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants would expire June 1.

Burrows, who manages Gusoline Alley in Royal Oak, said that while the curfew hasn't impacted the bar's business during the week — even at 50 percent capacity — as much as it has on Fridays and Saturdays, Whitmer's announcement last Thursday signals another welcome step toward normalcy.

"We all enjoyed getting out at a reasonable hour (but) now it's back to reality, which will be good," Burrows said, noting that the bar was typically busy until the 2 a.m. pre-pandemic closing time.

At the same time, Burrows said she's cautious.

"I am a little leery about how people will behave and pace themselves," shesaid.

Mike Forsyth, co-owner and founder of the popular Detroit City Distillery in Eastern Market, says he's ready to get back to business as usual, after months of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We've seen more demand than ever as the weather has warmed up,“ Forsyth said in an email to the Free Press. “Being able to operate after 11 p.m. means that Detroit nightlife will come back to life — and we're so ready for it."

While many owners view the curfew lift as a positive sign that life as we knew it is on the horizon, others plan to approach the return to normal hours gradually.

And for some, a return to late-night operation isn't possible quite yet, given the labor shortage in the hospitality industry.

Several owners say they are struggling to find the workers needed to staff those busy late-night hours.

Josh Cade, owner of Whiskeys on the Water in Wyandotte, is happy to have the curfew restriction lifted and believes it will have a positive impact.

"Everything is seemingly getting back to normal and I am all for it," Cade said. "It's a sign that the country and everyone as a whole is recovering. It should be taken in a positive light."

But once the curfew is lifted, Cade said he plans on staying open only an additional hour to midnight at first.

"We are staffed up for the hours that we operate right now," Cade said. Once the staff gets used to staying open till midnight, Cade said he'll reassess the situation to determine whether to remain open even later.

Brandon Richardson, co-owner of the Uptown Grille in Commerce Township, hasn't given the curfew lifting much thought yet.

The spot, which has spacious covered outdoor seating on West Maple near M-5, has been busy, Richardson said. But like many others in the business, Uptown Grille needs workers and is also facing staffing struggles.

"We are spread so thin and struggling to have the correct amount of staff," he said. “If we had the correct staff and it was lifted tomorrow, we would take advantage of it. Especially on the weekend."

Pre-pandemic, Thursday through Saturday had typically been a busy time at Uptown Grille, which featured live music each night. And its kitchen stayed open until 1 a.m.

Richardson said the restaurant/bar will play it by ear.

"At least we can start to prepare and try and take advantage of the curfew being lifted," he said. "We lost a lot of sales for those three hours."

At Captain's Bar and Restaurant in Wyandotte, co-owner Rick DeSana is excited to see the curfew lifted. One of the reasons, he said, is that it's not been easy to enforce the curfew.

"Some nights you're are having a busy night and right in the middle you have to cut everyone's night short at 10:30 to get everyone out the door," DeSana said.

Originally the curfew was set for 10 p.m. when restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen for indoor service Feb. 1. The extra hour of curfew came about a month later.

"One of the pluses is not having to ask everyone to leave," DeSana said. "People know the rules but don't always want to follow them."

Captain's Bar and Restaurant has a capacity of more than 200 people. The bar's outdoor back patio, DeSana said, holds 100.

"It has been our lifeline through these tough times," said DeSana, who noted that he expects his staff will need time to adjust to the later hours.

"The night staff had their shift shortened the most," he said. "The staff is going to make the transition from being closed earlier to being open later."

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