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COVID-19 has dimmed the lights in Buffalo's Theatre District

Shea's Buffalo
Theater crowds, like this one at Curtain Up!, have been dwindled by COVID-19 concerns.

The bright lights on the Shea's marquee in the Theatre District were flashing Thursday night, but staffers were at the doors to tell customers "Hello, Dolly!" had been canceled by orders from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.Shea's President and CEO Michael Murphy was going around to restaurants to apologize for canceling "Dolly." The audience was packing Shea's and reservations would have packed the restaurants Thursday. Theatre District residents were an increasing share among the bar and restaurant customers.

Murphy said the closings are unfortunate.
"Carolee Carmello, people were in love with her. She's a dynamite Dolly. And, also tonight, we were to open "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" at Shea's 710 Theatre and we had to cancel tonight and the entire three-week run," he said.

What happens next isn't clear anywhere in the state. Bijou Grill owner Bea Militello was looking forward to a  great night and week.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
COVID-19 is a topic of discussion at restaurants like Bijou Grill.

"Michael Murphy from Shea's came over and apologized to everyone that was in the restaurant and assured them they would get their money back or credit for their tickets, which I thought was wonderful of him to do that," Militello said.

The State Restaurant Association is asking Albany for help for workers and establishments, with people staying home.

“While we understand prioritizing the health and wellness of employees and patrons, this new cap will dramatically impact all restaurants across the state," said Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association. "Restaurants in Westchester and New York City have already reached a tipping point and are barely keeping their doors open. The dramatic decline in business will only get worse, and there is a growing fear among owners about how they will survive this crisis without meaningful assistance. We are hoping that the governor and legislators understand the serious peril these eateries are facing and provide the help we will need to navigate this until the worst is behind us."

NYSRA - Cuomo Letter - 3.12.20 by WBFO on Scribd

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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