By Sarah Hite Hando , Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — The city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade set for Sunday may not be as large or as rowdy as its Scranton counterpart, but bar and restaurant owners along the route are looking forward to seeing green on the streets and in their cash registers.
While the Wilkes-Barre parade is often touted as the more family-friendly event of local Irish celebrations, green beer still flows from establishments open on parade day.
Franklin’s Bar & Grill owner Frank Rodano knows the impact of the annual St. Patrick’s Day party — the bar and restaurant on Public Square held a soft opening on parade day in 2015.
Rodano, who also owns neighboring Rodano’s, said he opened Franklin’s on parade day to give the new eatery some publicity before officially opening two weeks later.
“We basically wanted people to know there was a new place downtown, and we got some good exposure that day,” he said.
Rodano said the Wilkes-Barre event has more of a “chill atmosphere,” with many regular customers and locals coming out to celebrate. He estimates the crowd is older, ranging from 30 to 50 years of age, and includes many families. Rodano said it’s not as hectic as other parades in the area.
“That’s the great part about it — it’s more of a social event,” said Rodano.
John Maday, president of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association, said he believes no matter the weather, the parade signifies the end of winter, which gets people thinking of visiting downtown.
“For any business, for any municipality, that one-day impact is significant,” he said. “The restaurants start featuring those items that will feature something for St. Patrick’s Day, and it will continue through the week until the 17th. … It’s another way for people to come in and start thinking of spring. It’s time to come out and go to that bar or restaurant and celebrate the end of winter.”
And while weather is always a factor in planning, Rodano said the setup of the restaurants allows patrons to enjoy the jovial atmosphere without exposing them to the elements.
The surroundings within the two eateries are starkly different during the event, which gives customers their choice of respite from the crowded streets.
“We have two different environments to choose from, and there’s a door to go from Franklin’s into Rodano’s without going outside,” said Rodano. “We did that last year. At Rodano’s, we have the DJ environment, and at Franklin’s we have more of an acoustic environment.”
Even though the event is more family-oriented, no one under 21 is allowed inside either restaurant, and Rodano said there is plenty of security to sniff out any potential troublemakers. He also said the staff communicates via portable radios to keep each other informed of any possible situations.
“We don’t tolerate much,” he said.