CINCINNATI — Ian Baker was days away from turning his dreams of owning a bar into a reality, and then came COVID-19.
"Everything kind of got put on pause," Baker said.
He said he was working behind the bar at the Growler House in East Walnut Hills when Gov. Mike DeWine issued a ban on dine-in service in Ohio.
"I was here working, me and the former owner, and then all of the sudden DeWine came on TV," Baker said of the bar located at 1526 Madison Road.
Baker and his financial backers began negotiating in February with the Growler House's former owners, Jason and Kelly Blake and Andrew and Andrea Torbeck, to purchase the craft beer bar from them. Baker said he was with the former owners the day Ohio's ban was announced to better understand how they operated the Growler House.
"They felt bad," Baker said. "They didn't want to sell a business that wasn't able to operate."
So, the Blakes and Torbecks held off on finalizing the sale of the bar to Baker for a few weeks. The transfer of the Growler House to Baker was completed in late April.
"We've been open on the weekends recently and we've been doing growler fills," Baker said.
Baker is currently working by himself behind the bar until business picks back up once sit-down service is allowed again. He added people's thirst for beer hasn't gone away in the short time since he started running the Growler House.
"We probably filled over 100 growlers in probably the first three weekends," Baker said.
Starting this weekend, Growler House will offer sidewalk seating with chairs distanced six feet apart and hand sanitizer available at each seat.
"I have Xs marked on the floor for where people can stand," said Baker, describing the line he has set up for people who come inside for orders.
Baker also is working to create barriers between the Growler House's four tables once inside seating is allowed again.
"My ideal job was always owning a bar," Baker said. "This is never in a million years what I would have expected when we were going through the process. "But here we are. And you just gotta kind of lean into it and keep going with it."
For hours and more information about the Growler House, visit www.thegrowlerhouse.com.