Kelly’s Taproom Reopens


Courtesy of @KellysTaproom on Instagram

The image that was posted on the Kelly’s Taproom social media pages to announce the re-opening.

Elena Rouse, Co-Culture Editor

This past week, the moment many have waited for came to fruition. On Wednesday, Jan. 27, Kelly’s Taproom posted an Instagram photo that ignited the anticipatory faction of the establishment’s patrons. The photo announced a victorious statement, “We Are Back!” 


Due to the pandemic, Kelly’s, like many other small businesses, had to close its doors. However, in the following months, as many similar restaurants opened their doors, Kelly’s continued to stay closed. In a previous interview with The Villanovan, owner and 1989 Vilanova graduate, Gene Mitchell gave the reasoning for the continued closure. He shared that the restaurant valued safety, was under much scrutiny from the township and needed more time to formulate a plan of action before it could re-open. To the disappointment of University students and community members alike, the Kelly’s owner had given no hope for re-opening in the fall semester. He did, however, leave readers with the certainty that the doors of the taproom would open before the University’s senior class graduated. 


This Thursday, that enigmatic future date came to light, as University students and more, for the first time in almost a year, stepped foot into the establishment. 


Mitchell shared his feelings about the day.


“Really, it has been a great experience,” Mitchell said. “Of course we were nervous and wanted to make sure all the protocols were being followed and at the end of the first week, I can tell you every person that came in was respectful of the rules that need to be in place to ensure a safe environment.” 


Mitchell has always had safety at the core of the establishment, a fact that has been prevalent upon the re-opening. Like many restaurants in today’s climate, masks must be worn inside at any time one is not seated at a table. Groups are no longer able to congregate at the bar or purchase only drinks. In order to stay, food must be purchased by patrons in groups of six or less.


In regard to the rules put into place, Mitchell noted how important it was that his team embodied the same goals. It was their devotion to said rules that solidified the owner’s belief in a re-opening. Without their commitment, Mitchell noted, even one customer could jeopardize the other patrons and the very validity of the protocols that were put into place.


As triumphant as the re-opening has been, the challenges presented to the business did not stop with just ensuring the utmost safety of its customers.


“There have been two challenges,” Mitchell said. “The first is the negativity from many that thought that Kelly’s should not be open. Why should Kelly’s be singled out when other establishments are open? Of course every establishment has an absolute obligation to follow the rules and conduct itself with respect for the protocols in place. The other challenge has been working with the new P.O.S. system which includes touchless menus by scanning the QR code and how that feeds through the system for ordering. Nothing that can’t be solved, but it has been new for us.”


However, even with all these changes upon the re-opening, the Taproom is still “looking forward to providing a safe environment for this to resume some normalcy in very small doses.”


Through the whole experience, Mitchell has found resilience revealing itself in the hearts of his staff and community members. He was in awe of their devotion to each other and the willingness to comply with protocol for the greater good.


Another important note is that Kelly’s Taproom has been dealing with a situation that has been plaguing small businesses across the country. Regulations regarding COVID-19 continue to change the rules on what these establishments can do, how they can conduct their business and even if they are allowed to conduct business at all. Luckily, for the staff at Kelly’s, management was “able to rehire all employees that had not taken opportunities outside the restaurant industry.” Such a novelty has not been granted to many other businesses during this time. 


When asked about his thoughts on the struggles of all the other small businesses, Mitchell related words of fortification.


“We are almost through this,” he said. “Hang in there, be safe and have faith.”


It is with great zeal that customers can once again socialize in the confines of the famous establishment, and it is with great hope that someday soon all similar businesses will be able to achieve the same victory as well.