WINDSOR, ONT. -- With lockdowns behind them, the owner of a Windsor bar is excited for what the future holds.

Mark Dutka, owner of Maiden Lane Wine & Spirts, admits the pandemic was “scary.”

“We opened our business and less than a year later we were shut down. This is how we feed our family,” Dutka says.

Maiden Lane Wine & Spirits creates unique cocktails and drinks from a vast and in some cases, rare, selection of alcohol from around the world.

Dutka says they “pivoted” to cocktail deliveries, expanded their patio and opened a rare wine bottle shop at their downtown Windsor bar.

They don’t have to deliver anymore, because the customers are coming to them now and keeping the staff busy.

“People seem to want to get out and spoil themselves a little bit and have us take care of them, and have us make them drinks instead of making their drinks at home.”

A surge in business is something the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association has noticed as well, according to Chair Brian Yeomans.

“They’re saying they’re seeing people from out of town that are starting to come back in again,” he says.

Yet Yeomans notes locals are still enjoying their city.

“This is how we prove how important local shopping is,” says Yeomans.

“When you survive a pandemic for 16 months, because of that local support, if we continue that, in addition to the tourism, I’m so excited to see that.”

And there’s more hope on the horizon as the Canadian land border will reopen to vaccinated Americans on Aug. 15.

“Once that border opens, I anticipate a real up-turn in our business,” says Tom O’Brien, owner of Coopers Hawk Vineyards in Essex.

O’Brien says before the pandemic, 18 per cent of their business was to American customers, either buying wine or enjoying at meal at their on-site restaurant.

“We’re going to have a good tourism season I think.” says O’Brien.

“I think people want to get out. I think they want to go someplace safe, they want to feel spacious and comfortable.”