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This downtown Boise bar is open again. It's now a restaurant with a 6-item menu.

Idaho Statesman logo Idaho Statesman 8/14/2020 By Michael Deeds, The Idaho Statesman

A downtown Boise bar is back in business.

The Mode Lounge, a popular cocktail destination at 8th and Idaho streets, recently opened again.

Bars in the Boise area have been closed for weeks by order of Central District Health. But some are applying for a food establishment license, which qualifies them to reopen as a restaurant. The Mode’s food permit was granted near the end of July, owner Russ Crawforth said.

The Mode offers a limited, six-item menu: mixed nuts ($3.95), an olive selection ($5.95), a charcuterie platter ($12.95), a cheese plate ($12.95), Caprese salad ($10.95) — and tinned fish with crackers ($14.95). “We have smoked mussels, smoked albacore tuna and two kinds of smoked oysters. Served with crackers and cornichons,” Crawforth said. “Yum!”

Equally, if not more, yummy? Pizza is available from PieHole next door, which Crawforth also owns. It will be brought to your table at The Mode.

To meet Central District Health restaurant guidelines, The Mode does not allow seating at the bartop. Patrons are required to wear a mask or facial covering unless they are seated, he said. And people aren’t allowed to walk up to the bar to order; it’s table service only.

Securing the new license was a straightforward process, Crawforth said. Although it eventually abandoned its menu, The Mode served food when it opened in 2014. The lounge still has two hand-washing stations and dishwashers.

He’d already considered reapplying for a food license before bars were shuttered in June, Crawforth said. “If you look at statistics of how long people stick around in a business where there’s food instead of just drinks,” he said in a phone interview, “it’s well over an hour longer that people stay.”

Boiseans comfortable going out during the COVID pandemic have extra reason to stay longer on 8th Street. Along with other restaurants along the entertainment corridor, The Mode doesn’t just have a patio — it has extra outdoor seating on the street, which is off-limits to traffic. Closing the street was OK’d by the city of Boise this summer to create additional social-distanced dining.

“The patios fill up, people go inside,” Crawforth said. “I think people that are going out and having a good time and social distancing, a lot of them are indifferent whether it’s inside or outside.”

That said? “Some people will only sit outside,” he said.

Either way, last call comes more quickly; The Mode now closes earlier than it did as a bar. Hours are 4 p.m.-midnight Sunday to Thursday, 2 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday.

You know — restaurant hours.

“There’s a lot of people out there that are arguing, ‘Well, that’s a bar. That’s a restaurant,’ ” Crawforth admitted. “Well, the difference is, do you make and serve your own food? Once you do that, I think you’re a restaurant.”

“We’ve been very busy,” he added. “We’ll definitely start increasing our menu.”

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©2020 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)

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