Driving through Kalamazoo Monday evening, some sights were pretty much what we've been seeing since the state shut down in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. But some things were all together different.

Along West Main, approaching Drake Road, there were the usual long lines extending out of Popeye's Chicken, but just after, the "garage door" window/doors at The Hangar were finally open again and a quick glance showed customers enjoying some beverages.

Arriving at my destination, Nisker's, at Drake and West Main, the bar area had patrons, (and the waitress had to count the number of patrons in the bar, a concession to the "new normal") but my party chose to enjoy the spectacular weather and sat outside. We even encountered an older gentleman heading to his car, who stopped and shared a couple of jokes with us.

The cool thing was, everyone seemed to be a good mood. The feeling was a mixture of Opening Day and a group reunion with long lost friends (even though we had stopped in a few times to do carry out in the past three months).

Before heading to my final destination, a quick detour down Porter Street past Bell's Eccentric Cafe was a reminder of the past three months.

Earlier in the day, Bell's posted they would be taking re-opening slowly.

We’re encouraged by Governor Whitmer’s announcement to reopen bars and restaurants with additional guidelines this week. We here at Bell’s have decided to take our time, and make sure we are prepared to accommodate each and every one of you in the safest way possible. While we will not be opening our doors for dine-in service today, June 8th, we have set our sights on a June 18th reopening date with modified hours and modified service. Keep an eye on our social channels for additional details regarding some of our new protocols as we get closer to the 18th." -Bell's on Facebook

Give Bell's credit. Yes, they do have deeper pockets than just about any establishment in town, but with gorgeous weather and a fairly big amount of pent-up desire among locals to socialize, this does amount to win-win. Bell's being a very popular spot might have been been overwhelmed with people on the first day of re-opening, and, with them being closed, it allowed other local establishments to re-open for dine-in business, without the biggest hotspot pulling people away.

On the way home, heading past another of the "beer-muda triangle" venues, HopCat; it had no cars in their parking lot, - they're due to reopen on June 13th - but it serves as a reminder of the uncertainty it faces from a recent bankruptcy filing.

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