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Bar owner: State's new reopening order brings 'zero change'

Posted at 3:36 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 16:58:25-04

Two local bar and restaurant owners say the state's new order regarding the reopening of establishments does little to improve business.

The order, signed into law Wednesday by Interim Health Director Lance Himes, allows self-serve food stations and congregate areas to reopen. It does not lift the 10 p.m. last call for establishments serving alcohol.

Jason Esterkamp, co-owner of O’Bryon’s Bar and Grill, said the new order doesn’t have impact on his restaurant because they’ve already been operating at full capacity with social distancing indoors.

“I printed off both orders actually dating back to the 5/14 order in May and then printed off the new order for today … really, there’s not much difference whatsoever. So it’s much to do about nothing,” Esterkamp said.

Esterkamp said the language in the governor’s health orders, which states bars and restaurants can “reopen for full dine-in services,” is deceiving.

“If he wants to fully open restaurants and bars, he should remove the Liquor Commission’s order about last call,” Esterkamp said.

Esterkamp said he was expecting Wednesday’s order to lift the 10 p.m. curfew. Instead, the order allows for “congregate spaces” to reopen for dancing and games, as long as patrons maintain social distancing.

The line in the order that states bars and restaurant can allow dine in at full capacity if tables are six feet apart and parties are limited to 10 people is the same as it was in May.

Zac Minturn, general manager at Ladder 19, said he was both surprised and frustrated that the order brought no change to his bar and grill.

“So if I hear full capacity, I want to go back to actual full capacity where I'm not having to social distance my tables, I can do larger parties. But right now, I can’t. Zero change,” Minturn said.

With a majority of his patrons coming to his Vine Street bar from the University of Cincinnati, Minturn said allowing later hours to resume is the key part to fully reopening.

“A majority of our business is going to come from after 10 o’clock,” Minturn said.

Esterkamp said the time restraints hurt his business the most.

“I don’t really know that I want to put my employees at risk with a lot of people standing around in very crowded bars. That’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for more time to do business,” Esterkamp said.