Last call pushed back: Local bars see revenue boost with extra hour before Ohio's curfew

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Posted at 11:11 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 23:21:50-05

CINCINNATI — Last call’s just a little bit later in Ohio, after Gov. Mike DeWine pushed back a statewide pandemic curfew from 10 to 11 p.m. this week. Bar owners in Cincinnati said thanks to the extra hour before curfew, they’re able to pull in double the sales.

"That hour was arguably our most valuable before COVID, and now getting it extended is huge,” said Camillo Otalora, owner of Lost & Found in Over-the-Rhine.

January can be a hard month for a bar or restaurant in a normal year, much less during a time of curfews and closures. Business owners said the boost in revenue now can help recoup what they’ve lost over months of curfews and temporary shutdowns.

Otalora said pushing back closing time raises spirits at his East 14th Street watering hole, in more ways than one.

"The 10 to 11 p.m. hour was our busiest hour as a cocktail bar,” he said. “Think about it as like, you went to dinner, you get one two more drinks at a spot. You're not staying out ‘til 1 to 2 in the morning, but you're staying out to get a drink."

Like many businesses, Lost & Found was hit hard by the pandemic, so the extra hour means a few extra drinks to boost revenue.

"It could be one or two, but one or two times however many people come through, that really adds up. So that extra hour is huge,” he said.

At nearby Queen City Radio on W. 12th Street, general manager Jordan Norman said they see volume increase typically up to closing time.

"They're coming out to hang out, have a drink and relax, rather than being able to come in for an hour."

That means 60 minutes is a big deal for his industry, and his employees.

"The extra hour is almost potentially a whole day's worth of sales extra just for that,” Norman said. “Our largest volume of sales is for the last hour or two hours that we're open."

Both business owners said they hope to show that bars and restaurants, following CDC guidance, can create a safe atmosphere later in the night.

"I'm excited to prove with data that actually staying out ‘til 11 or 12 in a place that follows proper protocol and guidelines can be done safely,” said Otalora. “You can go out and have a good time.”