Bayview Tavern temporarily a convenience store

Bayview Inn owner Earl Taylor stocks essential items at his tavern in Bowers Beach on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

BOWERS BEACH — “We’ve been here a long time, through a lot of storms and a lot of water,” said Earl Taylor, owner of The Bayview Tavern in Bowers Beach.

However, The Bayview Tavern — which first opened in 1941 — has never had to try to survive a pandemic like the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

When Mr. Taylor found out that bars, taverns and restaurants would be forced to close their doors under Gov. John Carney’s original state of emergency in March, he knew he was going to have to come up with another plan.

It turns out the course of action he decided to take would not only help him and his business, it would also help a small bayside community in the throes of the pandemic.

Hence, The Bayview Tavern has now become The Bayview Convenience Store – at least until the state of emergency is finally lifted.

“(The idea) was brought up and I talked to a few people and we all got together and went through all the paperwork and got a variance from the governor,” said Mr. Taylor, who has owned The Bayview Tavern for five years. “He granted me that for as long as it’s a state of emergency, that I could sell convenient products – some packaged goods. I can’t repackage things such as meats, but I can buy packaged meats and sell those.”

He also offers takeout food orders such as subs, and other entrees, from the tavern’s kitchen and is open from noon until 8 p.m. every Tuesday through Saturday. Just like when he operated a tavern, customers still must be at least 21 years old to enter the business.

“It is different,” said Mr. Taylor. “I’d like to see the barstools down (from sitting on top of the bar) myself and I’d like to see (butts) back in those seats.”

“This kind of helps people stay back (in town) a little bit so they’re not out there traveling, because I know it gets crazy out there sometimes,” said Earl Taylor.

Mr. Taylor said the decision to offer convenience store staples – he even sells toilet paper – was made in order to assist residents of the community of Bowers Beach during the coronavirus outbreak by giving them the opportunity to pick up smaller orders of groceries and other household items without having to travel to supermarkets or larger grocery stores that are often crowded with people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended social distancing among the population to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The small store offerings in Bowers Beach seem to fit the bill as there never appears to be a swarm of customers inside.

Right now, Mr. Taylor is just adjusting to the times.

“We sell your basic goods — milk, eggs, toilet paper, paper towels. I did get lucky and I found some more Lysol,” he said. “We also have quick meals such as spaghetti and macaroni, potatoes, ketchup, mustard and peanut butter and jelly, bread.

“This kind of helps people stay back (in town) a little bit so they’re not out there traveling, because I know it gets crazy out there sometimes.”

Ada Puzzo, mayor of Bowers Beach, welcomed Mr. Taylor’s new convenience store to Bowers Beach with a Facebook post on March 24.

“I’m so happy to announce the grand opening of the new Bayview Convenience Store,” Mayor Puzzo wrote. “Talk about making lemonade out of lemon. Thank you, Earl, for giving our locals a place close to home to pick up a few essentials and making the governor’s stay-at-home declaration a little easier.”

For Mr. Taylor, it’s a way to keep pushing forward – hopefully, until the coronavirus crisis passes.

“The (town’s residents) love it,” he said. “They keep asking me to do this forever and I tell them ‘No,’ this is just for the state of emergency. I also do takeout, besides my ‘tap-off license’ and I also have a liquor store.

“This helps. Right now, it’s hard. I’ve got a few people who worked full-time for me and I had to let them go and I’m doing this by myself. I know it’s hard on them because it’s hard on me. This is my retirement.”

He looked around, shook his head, and added, “It needs to be done. If it helps them out back here in town, that’s good. I’ve got a good clientele with locals and stuff like that, so they’re all good for me and they work with me and stuff.”

Right now, Mr. Taylor and other residents of Bowers Beach, like the rest of the country, keep on waiting – and waiting – for things to get back to normal.

“They could tell me (the coronavirus) would be gone tomorrow and I would be happy, but I know it won’t be and I know we’re still looking at 30-days plus,” said Mr. Taylor. “It’s just something that’s going to take some time and a lot of patience.

“And we’ll be here if anybody needs us.”

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Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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