WEST WYOMING – A popular watering hole in West Wyoming is making every effort to keep its customers happy, in spite of COVID-19 related restrictions which limit seating and dictate the business’s schedule.
Owners Mike and Jill Holcomb bought The Lighthouse late in February and by the second week of March had done some advertising, menu modifications and cleaning, successfully launching the popular bar/eatery on the backroad.
But just a week later, the coronavirus pandemic became a reality, with state regulations closing down their seating area.
The Holcombs responded to the challenge with a robust takeout menu and delivery service, which provided a chance to familiarize locals with their menu, serving both regulars and new customers, many of whom were working from home and looking to support small businesses.
Jill Holcomb said the bar was able to keep on its regular employees, in spite of COVID-19 restrictions.
When business was slow, those employees pitched in as needed, even sanding and staining the bar, she said.
Mike Holcomb said he immediately began to plan outdoor seating areas in the back and front areas of the building, and those projects are almost done.
Realistically, because of falling temperatures, those areas probably won’t be used this year, but when spring arrives, the Holcombs plan is for an outdoor seating area for about 60 people in the back of the building, and a smaller seating area out front.
Both said during the summer the opportunity to sit outside is always a big draw, and they plan on a fire pit and an outside bar to fulfill their customers needs.
The Holcombs said they have always viewed The Lighthouse as “the corner bar,” but that many people now come in from the Plains/Wilkes-Barre area, where they also own 279 Bar & Grill.
Jill Holcomb said in spite of the challenges presented by COVID-19 restrictions, the couple has remained confident that the bar would succeed.
The business has adapted to recent challenges, by setting up its limited seating with customers in mind.
For example, when the governor mandated that customers could not longer sit at the bar, the couple crafted a seating area near the window, to provide an increased amount of lighting.
The back area near the pool table now also has a seating area, were pool players and dart throwers can sit and enjoy their food and drinks.
Jill Holcomb emphasized that the business has remained in compliance with the governor’s orders, both as an opportunity to keep their customers safe and to avoid being out-of-compliance with the state.
When the governor strongly suggested businesses stop providing access to pool tables and dart boards, the business shut those games down.
As the state has reduced its restrictions, the business has seen more people coming in.
Now, with a 50 percent capacity limit, customers are able to come in and linger for a bit.
“The bartenders have kept an eye on how many customers are here,” Jill Holcomb said. “We’ve been able to keep to state standards because of the ebb and flow of customers, they’re not all here at the same time.”
Mike Holcomb said because the bar cannot serve drinks past 11 p.m., some customers from other business who worked the night shift, aren’t able to stop by for a drink on their way home.
Still the Holcombs said customers have been loyal, and they anticipate getting back to normal as soon as things get back to normal in general.
Jill Holcomb said the bar/grill draws a variety of customers, including older longtime customers and young people who find the casual atmosphere of the business refreshing.
The Holcombs still plan to move ahead with their plans for the “corner bar,” which Mike Holcomb says has always been his dream.
In addition to several new food items that have been added to their menu, the business anticipates soon adding some live music to its weekly schedule.
There are also some unique and seasonal offerings, including spiked apple cider which has marked the coming of autumn.
The business has also added a slushy machine which provides opportunity for a variety of innovative frosty sweet drinks, which they say customers really enjoy.
Another addition to the building for which the couple are especially grateful is a Hometown Hero banner which bears the name of Mike Holcomb’s father Harold Herbert Holcomb on the pole just outside its front door.
Mike Holcomb said it was one of the last spot’s available in West Wyoming, and he believes it was fate that the banner placed in front of his newly purchased bar/grill.
The couple are hoping that as COVID-19 restrictions are reduced, the business will continue to draw a crowd.