Bars adapt to social-distanced Badger game days during Big Ten opener

MADISON, Wis. – Bars along Regent Street welcomed a limited number of Badger fans during Wisconsin’s season opener against Illinois.

Under Coronavirus prevention guidelines set by Dane County, bars are still only allowed 1/4 of their total capacity. For Sconniebar, this means 40 customers inside.

“It’s been a roller coaster but definitely very different than years past as far as planning goes,” said General Manager Lucas Simon-Wambach.

The bar turned to an online app called “LineLeap” to plan reservations for Friday night’s game, charging $25 for a seat at the bar and $80 for a table for four.

“Obviously there’s not going to be the thousands of people walking down Regent Street and things like that, but we’re hopeful that this is a good time for businesses across the city and across the state,” Simon-Wambach said. “Kind of that light at the end of the tunnel that we’ve been looking for, where we can get a little bit of boost in sales after all these tough times we’ve been through.”

Down the street, Lucky’s 1313 had similar plans. It’s not the standing room only they’re used to on Badger game days, but bar manager Andy Buth says they’re trying to make the best of it.

“We’re trying to make it feel normal for everybody,” Buth said. “We’ve got 8,000 people who have season tickets who aren’t able to go to the stadium, so we’re trying to make everyone feel comfortable and feel like they’re having some sort of experience.”

Both bars say they’re requiring reservations, a way to limit the crowd while helping to increase revenue.

“We’re doing everything we possibly can,” Buth said. “We’re doing temperature checks at the door. Social distancing. Masks at al times unless you’re eating or drinking. We’re just trying to make it the most safe and positive experience that we can.”