Even with shutdowns and pandemic restrictions, working at Kroner & Baer Pub has been Manager Dani Gibson’s favorite job in Tahlequah.
Gibson, 24, is from the Grand Lake area, but has lived in Tahlequah for six years. Classes and cheerleading at Northeastern State University brought her to town. Still deciding a major, Gibson has taken a break from school, but she loves working at Kroner and has been there two years.
At the pub, the big changes the pandemic brought – other than some weeks of being closed – have been social distancing and wearing masks.
“Wearing a mask for sometimes 10 hours is rough. I have a huge respect for health care workers who wore them before the pandemic,” said Gibson. “People look at me kind of strange because I wear a mask. They’re like, ‘You know us, take your mask off.’ It is a job requirement, but I do participate in wearing a mask when I go out.”
Protecting elders and others who may be vulnerable to the coronavirus is why Gibson continues to wear face coverings. She lives with her boyfriend, who doesn’t work around a lot of people.
“I want to keep him as safe as possible,” said Gibson. “When I get home, I immediately wash my hands. I try to wipe my phone, anything I may have touched, my keys. Touching money can spread a lot of germs.”
Cleaning and disinfecting are major parts of the work at the downtown bar, and the extra precautions that have been put into place will probably stick around.
“We’ve been super-diligent about sanitizing and keeping it super-clean,” said Gibson. “It’s a good way to get into good habits we should all be doing.”
Kroner did switch to disposable cups for about a year and still uses them if the pub gets really busy, according to Gibson. She said the volume of customers has gone up.
“After being in lockdowns and being cooped up, people are needing to get out. With the patio areas, it’s easy to spread out,” she said. It’s a relief for people after being locked up. They don’t feel so boxed in. It’s a good outlet for people without too much risk on them.”
Kroner & Baer has expanded its outdoor areas over the past year or so, and Gibson said they have multiple fire pits and try to space everything 6 feet apart so groups can stay in their own areas.
“I appreciate the customers who come in with masks trying to protect others,” said Gibson. “I also appreciate my fellow co-workers being cooperative with the rules and keeping up with the cleaning. I’m proud of them.”
One thing Gibson misses during this time is traveling, especially to see more of her family.
“I’m always afraid of visiting family because some of them are immunocompromised. I’m looking forward to seeing them again,” she said.
To pass the time, Gibson has been exercising and maintaining her fitness levels.
“I run outside, especially in the nice weather. It’s a way to get out without being around people,” said Gibson.