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New business opens despite COVID-19

The Oak Room Lounge open its doors amid the coronavirus
Oak Room Lounge sign
Oak Room Lounge sign(KOLO)
Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 7:00 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Over the last several months, countless stories have been told about businesses struggling or having to shut their doors all together because of COVID-19. However, the Oak Room Lounge in Sparks decided to take the risk and open a brand new bar despite the pandemic.

Rafael Pineda, owner of the Oak Room Lounge, said he knew the circumstances were not ideal, but once he had the opportunity to acquire the building, he couldn’t pass it up.

“Obviously I was a little hesitant about opening up during this time but we also felt like we needed to do it. It was not the ideal time, but it was the right time for us,” Pineda said.

He explained having their grand opening in the middle of the pandemic was anything but easy but had a much bigger turnout than he ever expected. Pineda said the line to get in went around the building, but he was unable to bring that many people in because of current COVID-19 restrictions.

“Having a limited capacity affects a lot of the businesses because we cannot bring in all of the people we used to have so the revenue will be a lot lower,” Pineda said.

Pineda explained other than just being a bar, he and his team decided to add food to the menu as another way to bring in revenue and so they are able to stay open if bars get shut down again.

He said they have been taking all of the necessary precautions such as wearing masks, temperature checking at the door, and providing hand sanitizer. However, the guidelines from the statewide pause have provided their own set of challenges. A lot of the money to open this business has come out of his own pocket since it was so difficult to find funding.

“Keeping our clientele safe and utilizing all of the safety protocols, we had to implement all of that stuff and we didn’t need to do that before so those are more expenses that businesses have,” Pineda said.

Pineda said, for now, the Oak Room Lounge will be open Thursday through Sunday, but plans to extend it to seven days a week once some of the capacity restrictions are lifted. Although it has not been easy, he said he hopes this will bring light into the community during a troubling time.

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