CINCINNATI — Jefferson Social manager Kris Keefe said the state’s regulations on bars and restaurants are always changing and difficult to keep up with.
But the most damaging, according to Keefe, is Gov. DeWine’s latest mandate, which calls for alcohol sales in bars and restaurants to end at 10 p.m.
The move came in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, but Keefe said this regulation in particular has been “devastating.”
Alcohol sales have a larger profit margin than food, so cutting sales at 10 p.m. hurts business.
“It’s been extremely difficult … honestly devastating to have to lose the night business.”
Keefe said that The Banks staple had seen about a 60% decrease in sales, and that was before the governor’s last order.
“We’ve moved from trying to eek out a little bit of keeping some money in the bank to keep us through the winter, to now we’re on the slow loss. Who knows how long it’s going to go on,” Keefe said.
Keefe is not alone; the owner of O’Bryon’s Bar and Grill in O’Bryonville said the latest order has been “frustrating.”
Several Greater Cincinnati bars and restaurants announced closures this week, citing COVID-19. The Overlook Lodge will close temporarily, and The Fiery Hen will close permanently.
For now, Keefe said Jefferson Social is trying to adapt to the change. He said they’re planning on bringing in live bands to try to get customers in the doors earlier.
“We’re definitely trying to focus, like we have to on a different part of the day when we wouldn’t normally have as many people in here,” Keefe said.
Keefe said it would help bar owners if DeWine would allow alcohol sales just a little later, until 11 p.m. or midnight.
“If it goes all the way through the winter and through the spring at 10 o’clock, I think you’re going to see a wave of bar and restaurant closures,” Keefe said.
Gov. Andy Beshear is expected to implement similar rules in Kentucky next week. Beshear is also expected to increase indoor capacity for dining back up to 50%. Capacity is currently at 25% across the state.