(CNN)When the State of New York issued a rule requiring restaurant patrons to order food if they want to buy alcohol, the owner of a Saratoga Springs pub added $1 Cuomo Chips to the menu.
They’re named after Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced the executive order as part of an effort to ensure social distancing at establishments that serve alcohol during the coronavirus pandemic.
“If you’re not eating a meal and you’re just drinking and then it’s just an outdoor bar and people are mingling and not isolated at tables,” Cuomo said.
The rule went into effect Friday and also prohibits customers from walking up to a bar to order drinks.
Matthew Bagley, the owner of Harvey’s Restaurant and Bar, told CNN that he wasn’t making a political statement when he added Cuomo Chips to the menu.
Saratoga Springs says its the birthplace of the potato chip, so it was an obvious addition. And Bagley likes the alliteration.
“It started as, not so much a joke, but at least to make light of the situation that we had another unexpected hurdle that we had to go through,” Bagley said.
The restaurant already offered a full menu, but Bagley wanted to have an option for customers who aren’t particularly hungry.
Bagley said he got a call from the state Liquor Authority, which said bar snacks like chips, nuts or crackers aren’t substantial enough to count under the rule, but serving salsa or another dip would be OK.
He said the pub is also offering a fancy-looking $1 flatbread with roasted beets, cheese and greens and will probably start offering pretzel bites because they’re running low on chips.
“We have noticed a significant increase of guests that have been coming here from different places pretty much to say, ‘We’re here for the Cuomo Chips,'” he said.
Bagley said he takes the rules seriously and is doing everything possible to make sure the pub is in compliance and that everyone wears a mask and keeps their distance.
“I had to close the bar for three months when all the phases started, so the last thing that we want to do here is jeopardize the business further by acting with a flippant disregard for these rules,” he said.
Cuomo said the state is seeing “significant” evidence of restaurants and bars failing to comply with Covid-19 social distancing regulations and estimated at least 5,000 establishments in downstate New York were failing to comply.
He said his office has received thousands of complaints and videos showing restaurants and bars with improper social distancing.
The governor said the state will enforce a “three strikes and you’re closed” policy.
“I’m all for it,” Bagley said. “People need to actually follow the rules, because if we don’t then we’re just going to stay in this state of limbo. How are we going to move forward if people don’t just start working together.”