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Bar, restaurant owners claim new liquor rule will throttle already-damaged businesses

Craft Beer
Posted at 6:49 PM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 18:49:35-04

Major players in the Cincinnati restaurant and bar industry said Friday afternoon they are seriously considering suing the state of Ohio over its new 10 p.m. cutoff for serving alcohol.

Britney Ruby Miller, CEO of Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment, said she is in contact with her attorneys and hoping to learn about ways she can stop the rule.

Troy Allen, who owns businesses including 16-Bit and Pins Mechanical Company, said the COVID-19 pandemic had already taken a sizable bite out of his business. For months, none of his bars could open at all. The 500 people he employed across the state became 300.

“He’s singling out an industry, and he’s crippling it,” Allen said of Gov. Mike DeWine.

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The new rule, which had been proposed Thursday by DeWine and passed Friday morning by the Ohio Liquor Control Commission, requires bars and restaurants to stop serving liquor after 10 each night. Any liquor purchased before 10 must be off the table by 11, and businesses that violate the order could lose their liquor licenses.

Allen and others in the Cincinnati restaurant industry said 10 is often the hour business picks up for the night.

DeWine knew it would be painful for the bar and restaurant owners who had been following the rules surrounding social distancing and mask-wearing, he said in Thursday’s news conference.

However, he described the measure as a necessary one in response to nightly scenes of crowded dance floors and shoulder-to-shoulder traffic on outdoor patios, especially in cities.

"We do not want to shut down Ohio bars and restaurants," DeWine said Thursday. "That would be devastating to them. But we do have to take some action and see what kind of results we get from that action."

The rule will remain in effect for 120 days or until canceled by the Liquor Control Commission.

“We are considering literally shuttering all of our locations in Ohio and waiting 30 days, 60 days, maybe waiting ’til next year,” Allens said.

For now, his remaining employees will stay on 26-hour weekly schedules.