It was a poignant, but responsible, sign of the coronavirus pandemic: Monday, McGillin’s Olde Ale House on Drury Street in Philadelphia locked the doors and closed for business.
The last time McGillins closed down like this was Prohibition.
Actually, McGillin’s didn’t really close back then. As the tavern admitted on its Twitter feed Monday, during the time of the 18th Amendment “Ma McGillin locked the front door, opened the side door & served ‘tea’ upstairs.”
“There won’t be any ‘tea’ this time but one thing will be the same – we survived!” tavern representatives said on Twitter.
McGillin’s says its beer taps have been flowing since 1860. It’s the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia and among the oldest in the country.
But all Pennsylvania businesses that are not “life-sustaining” had to close as of 8 a.m. Monday. As difficult as it is to admit. bars — unlike restaurants, which can continue to do take-out and delivery — are specifically not considered “life-sustaining” under the governor’s order.
McGillin’s said on its website that it has paid its staff for the week and is helping with unemployment applications for the rest of the shutdown. They also gave out its food inventory to staff members and St. John’s Hospice.
If you want to help McGillins’ staff members, the tavern has set up a GoFundMe account linked from its web page.
Despite the closure, McGillin’s seems to have maintained a hopeful attitude.
“We will get through this and look forward to celebrating the end of coronavirus with you, just as we were here to celebrate the end of Prohibition,” its web site reads.