RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Bingo Beer Company is responding after a photo circulating social media shows a crowd of people waiting to get inside.
Jay Bayer, co-owner of the restaurant and brewery, said the photo was taken on the night of Oct. 22. Bayer told 8News the group in the photo are local college students who wanted to gather on one of Bingo’s outdoor patios, called the beer garden.
He told 8News the same group visited the bar the previous week on Oct. 15, and the bar recognized it as a concern.
“Everybody who showed up wanted to hang out outside on the beer garden so as a result, we put policies in place to limit the capacity out there,” Bayer said.
After those capacity restrictions were put in place, the same group came a week later on Oct. 22, when the photo was taken.
“We weren’t letting everybody in the space and, as we were managing our capacity inside and trying to manage the crowd that was coming, more and more ubers of people kept showing up outside,” Bayer said, describing how the crowd outside formed.
The viral photo resulted in an influx of complaints to the Virginia Department of Health. Richmond Health Director Dr. Danny Avula said they have received 82 complaints against Bingo.
Bayer said most of those complaints are for the restaurant being over capacity or for people inside not wearing masks. “I can assure everyone that we are well, well under our capacity,” he said.
Bayer also said mask-wearing is strictly enforced inside Bingo any time people are not sitting at their table.
Now, the bar is taking precautions a step further, saying their main priority is the health and safety of the community. “We decided that for an indefinite amount of time, the right thing to do is just to close early,” the co-owner said.
Bingo, which typically is open until midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends, will be closing at 11 p.m. every night. In addition, the bar will have an extra staff member monitor the line outside to enforce social distancing.
Bayer said the health department has been at Bingo twice. Health officials first visited the bar on Oct. 16 and asked them to make a couple of changes, which they complied with. Bingo invited the health department to visit the bar a second time on Oct. 23 after the photo surfaced to show the precautions they continue to take.