TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Bars and restaurants have been struggling for the past year, missing out on major events, including March Madness.

This year, restrictions are lifted and they’re hoping to make up for lost revenue.

The fall of March 2020 was sudden and painful.

“Last year was nothing and this year, hopefully, we will fill these tables up,” Brian Recher, Co-Owner of Rec Room and Towson Tavern, said.

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This year, it’s a little different. Inside Rec Room, chairs are socially distanced, hand sanitizer is spread out across the bar and TVs are tuned in for March Madness.

“We’re very fortunate,” Recher said. “We really are.”

Recher said not only did COVID-19 restrictions force bars and restaurants to close indoor dining, but it also canceled March Madness, a major event that brings in money.

“It helps us to pay bills,” he said.

But 2021 is looking up with indoor and outdoor dining restrictions lifted in Baltimore County. Recher said when it comes to bringing in business this weekend, he’s hoping for a slam dunk.

“Having March Madness helps,” he said. “It will definitely help.”

Nick Zahirsky, General Manager of Charles Village Pub, said he is ready for a busy weekend.

“I expect people to come out,” Zahirsky said. “I’m sure all the bars will be pretty busy and we’re hoping Friday will be looking good.”

“The Terps are Saturday at 7 o’clock, so we will obviously be expecting a seated distanced crowd with all the tables filled,” he added.

Bars and restaurants still have to follow COVID-19 safety protocols. That includes social distancing tables and customers have to continue wearing masks.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Kelsey Kushner