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Local bars, restaurants face new obstacles after state's curfew lifted

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Posted at 11:31 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 11:19:55-05

CINCINNATI — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the end of the state’s curfew at his news conference Thursday afternoon, allowing bars and restaurants to resume normal hours after months of an early last call.

Bar owners said they’re grateful for the move to allow them to remain open later, but they know there will be obstacles ahead.

“Confusion is poison,” said marketing director for Earth and Ocean Restaurant Group Tony Castelli. “When people are confused on whether they can or can’t go out, mask or no mask, it makes them say, ‘Ugh, why bother? I’ll just stay at home.’”

Lifting the curfew means more opportunities for drinkers and diners to stay out later.

“From a dollars and cents perspective, it’s usually guests here a little later that spend a little more time, and a little more money," Castelli said.

At The Drinkery in Over-the-Rhine, partner Justin Kohl said the news comes with some unforeseen hurdles.

“It was exciting at first. Then it was like, ‘oh man,’” he said. “We’re back to full hours. We have a lot of people we need to hire back. Some people can’t come back.”

Right now, bar and restaurant owners aren’t sure there’s an appetite for late-night bars and restaurants. Kohl said he’s hopeful, but knows building consumer habits takes time – and he said no matter what time of day, they’ll be following CDC guidelines to make sure everyone stays safe.

“People will want to come out and support,” Kohl said. “Cincinnati does a great job of rallying around the city and supporting their business.”

Capacity restrictions for bars and eateries remain in place, but bar owners said their most profitable hours are later into the night, making Thursday’s announcement a big win.