Pubs that have remained closed for much of the winter prepared this week for a St. Patrick’s Day opening, wiping down bars, sweeping floors and arranging stools in their rightful places.

“We made it,” Ritz owner Larkin Stallings told the Gazette by phone. “It was a winter.”

In Edgartown, the Wharf Pub bustled on Thursday, drawing a large lunchtime crowd with several tables full. Many patrons donned green gear with Guinness in hand. Co-owner Will Coogan said the important thing was just being able to open the pub’s doors again.

“We’re doing corned beef today because it’s St. Patrick’s Day and it’s easy,” he added.

The Wharf just before the opening bell on Thursday. — Ray Ewing

But staffing shortages and other issues have led to an opening weekend that leaves some restaurateurs as nervous as they are hopeful about the spring and summer seasons.

“I’m excited to open, but in the same breath I’m in trouble,” Rockfish general manager Anthony Carestia said earlier in the week. Rockfish and the Wharf Pub are sister restaurants owned by the Coogan family (Mr. Carestia is Mr. Coogan’s brother in law).

Mr. Carestia said staffing shortages at Rockfish often left him washing dishes before the restaurant closed for a break last month.

“The places that are going to survive, the owners have to go into the kitchen,” Mr. Coogan said, adding that as long as patrons anticipate that service will be a little different this year on the Island, things should run smoothly.

Bar owners are excited about opening again but still worried about staffing issues. — Ray Ewing

“If you understand that as a patron, you’re good,” he said.

Mr. Carestia said Rockfish has no plans for any holiday weekend events and is focusing on making it through opening weekend as smoothly as possible.

“Just a nice St. Patrick’s Day feel,” he said.

At the Ritz, Mr. Stallings said supply chain issues caused a bit of delay in the pub’s renovations. The result is an opening weekend absent of Dilly’s Taqueria, the bar’s kitchen.

“We stayed closed longer than I wanted to,” he said, adding that he focused on being ready to open for St. Patrick’s day.

“We always use that as a deadline,” he said. “It’s just a tradition.”

Ray Ewing

And with the Islandwide mask mandate recently lifted, Mr. Stallings said the Ritz is looking forward to a strong opening weekend filled with live music every night.

“I think it’s going to be cool,” he said. “Everybody’s ready to roll.”

Mr. Stallings said he also anticipates a few slow weeks before business really picks up in April.

“Next week will just kind of be the regular Ritz,” he said.

But regular will not last for long as businesses prepare for a summer filled with pent-up demand.

“Back at it,” Mr. Stallings said.