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Bar owners find creative ways to get around COVID rules with Cuomo Chips and lollipops

Not the authentic Cuomo Chips
Not the authentic Cuomo Chips
Photo: Henry Horenstein (Getty Images)

As long as there are rules, people will find ways to get around them, and even rules that are intended to protect everyone from a deadly pandemic are no exception. In New York State, bars were recently allowed to reopen, but with these caveats: customers must be sitting down and they must be eating food. And not just bags of potato chips, either. Governor Andrew Cuomo demands dining. His reasoning, as the New York Times reported last week, is that if patrons are just drinking, they’re also walking around and mingling and possibly spreading the coronavirus. The ruling was vague enough, though, that it didn’t explain what “dining” actually meant.


So even before the governor’s press conference ended, enterprising bar owners were thinking up ways to get around his edict, including Chris Turner, food and beverage director of The Lafayette Brewing Co., a brewpub in Buffalo:


“I don’t even think his press conference was done by the time I hit print on it,” Turner told Forbes. Since then, though, he’s come up with a classier cheap menu that includes items like pretzel fries and fish sticks. catalogued several other bars around New York State that have come up with creative low-price menus.

Hamburg Brewing Company in Hamburg initially handed out Dum Dums lollipops for a penny, but switched over to crackers, which probably go better with beer anyway. The item is so official it has a place on the menu.


Meanwhile, in Saratoga Springs:


“I mean why not, they’re his chips, they’re his rule so he might as well get some recognition and acknowledgment for another little hurdle we have to jump through as business owners,” owner Matthew Bagely told Albany’s WRGB-TV. Harvey’s took the liberty of adding a $1 order of Cuomo Chips to every order. Customers said they also made great paperweights for the check. They proved so popular that they sold out in two days. Now Cuomo Chips look like pretzel bites. But the name is so much fun—and presumably brought in so much business— that Bagely has decided to keep it.

Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.

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“Sure, the point of this law was to make sure people don’t get COVID19, pass it to everyone they meet, then suffer lifelong side-effects if they don’t die horribly, but I need to make a buck and I don’t care about actually making sure my business is safe and responsible!”

Get more clever about keeping your customers away from each other while they visit your establishment, that should have been their goal. What kind of person looks at that situation and says “I need the easiest, cheapest, laziest way to ensure I barely obey the new law while ignoring the longer-term needs of my customers and the community as a whole”? It seems pretty scummy. Not surprising, just scummy.