Harrisburg bar and restaurant owners remain optimistic, look ahead to St. Patrick’s Day

Molly Brannigans, a traditional Irish pub and restaurant in Harrisburg, is prepared for big crowds Saturday for St. Patrick's Day. CHRISTINE BAKER, The Patriot-News

Business owners along North Second Street in Harrisburg say the recent spate of crime in Harrisburg will not detract from what is expected to be a big week along Restaurant Row.

The unusually warm temperatures in the forecast this week combined with March Madness basketball playoffs and St. Patrick’s Day falling on Saturday are predicted to attract plenty of people to downtown.

“I think people are aware of it, but it just seems like everybody goes on with their lives. They see so much on the news whether it’s another city or another country. And, unless it’s something they feel they have to personally deal with, it’s not something they need to worry about,” said Don Brown, owner of the FireHouse Restaurant.

Bar owners along Restaurant Row met with police last week to discuss safety measures downtown, and police protection on Second Street had been beefed up.

“I think people who come downtown know that any problems that happened were in very specific areas. Between the police presence and the other things, a lot of that is being solved,” said Ron Kamionka, owner of a half-dozen nightclubs along the street.

Bar and restaurant owners are bracing for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday. It is one of the biggest drinking nights of the year along the street, next to Thanksgiving Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Kamionka said business usually triples when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday. He said he plans to open several establishments, including Mulligan’s Downtown Pub, Bourbon Street Saloon and Blue Heaven diner, at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Many downtown restaurants also will open their doors as early as 7 a.m. serving Irish breakfasts and beer.

Carrie Karper, general manager at Molly Brannigan’s, an Irish pub and restaurant on the street, said she anticipates hundreds of revelers to patronize the restaurant Saturday for the holiday. The temperatures are forecast to be in the upper 60s, which is warm enough to set up tables and chairs outside, she said.

“We’re not concerned. We’re going to be business as normal,” Karper said.

Source:  SUE GLEITER, The Patriot-News, pennlive.com


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