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Bars, restaurants struggle through first weekend of new alcohol curfew

Posted at 11:05 PM, Aug 01, 2020

CINCINNATI — Bars and restaurants in Cincinnati are still adjusting to the state's new 10 p.m. curfew for alcohol sales, especially after working to comply with other pandemic-related orders that cut capacity allotment and require social distancing and barriers.

After Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called for bars and liquor stores to halt alcohol sales at 10 p.m. nightly, the state Liquor Control Commission met Friday morning and voted unanimously to approve his plan.

“This rule would prevent the sale of alcohol at all liquor-permitted establishments beginning at 10 p.m. each night (and) consumption of alcohol placed on the table must be completed by 11,” DeWine said Thursday.

The order is written to last 120 days, unless the state opts to cancel it sooner. DeWine said it would be in place until further notice.

"That is certainly not helping us," said Tsvika Silverburg, chef and owner of Zula in Over-the-Rhine. "It's just making it so much more difficult for us to try and survive these difficult times."

The owner of the Overlook Bar, Jacob Trevino, announced Saturday that the "The Shining"-themed bar would be temporarily closing, because "trying to navigate the ever-changing regulations is not good for consumer confidence and undermines the strides we have made as business owners to keep people employed consistently and in a manner that benefits the larger community." The bar will still hold private and ticketed events, but will temporarily suspend day-to-day operations.

Silverberg said he feels the regulations on his industry are beginning to pile up, making it difficult for his restaurant and bar to make any money as they try to rebound during the coronavirus pandemic.

DeWine said he believes this rule will help limit the spread of COVID-19. Friday, Mayor John Cranley identified six bars throughout the city that have had the highest amount of complaints regarding overcrowding and non-compliance of the mandatory mask order indoors.

In addition, recent spiking COVID-19 cases have skewed younger: A little less than a third of Friday’s new cases were 20-somethings and the median age of a COVID-19 patient in Cincinnati is 36.

Silverberg said, after everything business owners have done to stay compliant and safe, however, the new curfew is an extra blow to business. He said he has already spent thousands of dollars on plastic barriers at the bar, cleaning supplies and the outdoor tent and seating area.

"I don't think that the people making those decisions are taking any pay cut," he said. "They don't have to compromise anything with their lifestyle. They're still getting their paycheck."

Silverberg said with sales at Zula down 50% to 60%, he isn't certain how much longer his business can continue to survive.

"We're trying to be positive," said Silverberg. "We come here. We put our A-game, our best foot forward every day. But, our future -- very uncertain."