LACONIA — With Laconia Motorcycle Week approaching, you might expect that bars in the Weirs area would spend this week preparing for a surge in business. At least one bar, though – and the biggest biker bar in the area, at that – is going in the other direction. The Broken Spoke Saloon will close for all of Motorcycle Week, citing the additional requirements the state is imposing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Alicia Turner, operations manager for the Broken Spoke, said she felt it would be “impossible” for her staff to attend to their normal duties as well as ensure that patrons were following the rules that the state was expecting. Those rules include no standing at the bar or any other areas, remaining seated at their tables, and no mingling between groups.
In an industry circular letter issued on Aug. 11, the state’s Liquor Commission made clear that any establishment found to be in violation could pay a steep penalty.
“The Commission will not hesitate to suspend the license of any licensee who fails to properly adhere to the reopening guidelines and creates a risk to public health and safety,” the circular warned.
It might be one thing to say that in a letter. But, Turner said, it’s another to be the waitstaff who are trying to enforce those regulations on a busy night.
“Asking multiple bikers to sit down is not an option,” she said. "Honestly, I think all the bars should do this together."
Turner said she didn’t consider the closure a form of protest, but a logical conclusion after considering what the business stands to lose.
“It’s the risk,” she said. “We’re trying to eliminate any risk of losing our license.”
There’s a particular irony in the Broken Spoke closing for Motorcycle Week. The local establishment is owned by a couple that also operates bars under the same name in Daytona, Florida and in Sturgis, South Dakota, communities that also hold large annual motorcycle rallies. For years, the Broken Spoke in Laconia was only open for two weeks out of every year – just for Motorcycle Week – and would close for the next 50 weeks. Four years ago, though, the Turner family took over management of the business and converted it into a year-round watering hole popular with locals as well as visitors.
“We’re always rocking,” Turner said, adding that it makes sense to forego the revenue they might realize during Motorcycle Week if it means they can continue to serve alcohol in the months to come.
“Everyone loves coming here, we want them to be able to continue coming here in the fall and winter,” she said.