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The One Clever Trick Your Local Bar May Be Using to Stay in Business

There's a tiny loophole that some bars have found in order to stay open amidst new COVID-19 regulations.
waitress with a face mask in a bar.

If you really want a cold beer or an exotic cocktail at your local pub, you might also need to order a single cheese puff, too—all because of the coronavirus. Yep, as bizarre as that may sound, it's because of new regulations in many states that require eating establishments to serve food in order to remain open during the pandemic. So, bars that previously only ever served beer, wine, or alcohol are getting creative by offering the bare-minimum in foodservice.

Take, for example, Lafayette Brewing Company in Buffalo, NY, which recently revealed its teeny-tiny, pandemic-specific menu that features the "Smallest Piece of Cheesecake in Buffalo," "9 French Fries," and "a piece of meat," each sold for only one dollar:

The Burton Bar in Allegheny, New York has a similar approach, but at slightly higher prices—selling items like "Chips & Dip" or a "Persoanl Cheese/Pepperoni/Cracker Plate" for $1.50:

And, an unnamed bar in Pittsburgh appears to have the cheapest single food option, in its "Here for the Beer" menu. Patrons can legally drink at the establishment if they also order "One Cheese Puff Ball" for five cents:

It may be a clever trick, and a critical one to save businesses, but some public health officials question if it's a responsible one. The regulation that establishments must serve food was implemented as a way to discourage crowded bars and binge drinking, especially considering bars seem to be a place where COVID-19 is most easily being spread. (Recent evidence shows that one of the most dangerous places to contract the coronavirus are crowded and poorly ventilated indoor locations.)

Many experts have been pushing for bars, in particular, to close in the states where COVID-19 cases are spiking. The nation's top immunologist Anthony Fauci, MD, has repeatedly called for bars to shut down, especially in coronavirus hotspots. And Admiral Brett Giroir, the White House's coronavirus testing czar, also recently advised that states should "close bars in those hot areas." But, for now, as long as they're serving the most bite-sized of food, they've found a loophole to stay open.

For more, check out these 10 Beloved Food Court Eats That are Vanishing Along With Malls.