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Stonington music venue finds new way to survive as CT delays Phase 3 reopening

New London

STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH)– With Phase 3 reopening delayed bars will remain closed and restaurants will remain at half capacity indefinitely. 

Big bands and big crowds are usually how the Phoenix in Pawcatuck makes its money. 

“We’re just breaking even,” said Barry Fortin, of Phoenix Dining & Entertainment.

Its two bars are now closed to customers. Only wait staff are allowed to belly up to fill table orders.

“We have our fancy little shield there with the guitar on it,” said Fortin.

 Capacity is cut in half.

“We’ve reduced our occupancy from 307 to 150,” said Fortin.

It looks like it is going to stay that way for a while as Governor Ned Lamont pushes back Phase 3 Reopening. 

The Phoenix is a dining and entertainment venue so it has been able to survive while some music venues serving drinks only haven’t been able to reopen.

Live bands at the Phoenix are separated from the dining area by an empty dance floor and a walkway bridge so social distancing requirements are being met. 

“People can dance and they dance,” said Fortin, who showed News 8 the distance between tables. “Couples dance right around their area here.”

Fortin has watched other states reopen bars and then close them again which is something he is glad Connecticut is trying to avoid.

“Going backwards is not an option,” said Fortin. “That would put a lot of people out of business. The slow steady increase is gonna help us.”

Fortunately the Phoenix started building an outdoor patio last fall and then once the pandemic hit it really pushed up its plans. That outdoor space became the only source of revenue starting in mid May.

“This was open before we could go inside,” said Fortin. “So now there’s more and more people. Sometimes every chair in here is full.”

Outdoor activities may allow another rebirth for this Phoenix.

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