Akron bartender relieved bars are closing earlier because late-night patrons have punched, screamed at staff for enforcing social distancing rules

Akron bartender relieved bars are closing earlier because late-night patrons have punched, screamed at staff for enforcing social distancing rules
Tammy Larizza has been working at Ray’s Pub in Akron for more than a decade and she says while being a bartender has never been an easy job, it’s been even more challenging the past few months. (Source: Kelly Kennedy)

AKRON, Ohio (WOIO) - Some Ohio bars are fighting back against the governor’s new rule that requires bars to stop serving booze at 10 p.m., and shut down by 11 p.m.

On Wednesday, a judge ruled that the governor’s order will stay in place. While many in the industry believe the new law will not help stop the spread of the coronavirus, one local bartender disagrees.

Tammy Larizza has been working at Ray’s Pub in Akron for more than a decade and she says while being a bartender has never been an easy job, it’s been even more challenging the past few months.

“One of our bartenders has gotten punched,” said Larizza. “There’s been multiple fights here and all because we’re strictly trying to enforce rules that people don’t agree with.”

“My immediate second thought was this is terrible,” she said. “We are losing shifts, we are losing money but then the relief comes from it’s very hard to get people to follow rules late night after they’ve had a few drinks nobody wants to listen to us and it’s just hard. Our job is becoming very very hard.”

Larizza was so frustrated she decided to write a post on Facebook describing a day in the life of a bartender before the curfew started, and to her surprise, her post has now been shared more than 1,000 times. Larizza says before even starting her shift she spends hours putting up barriers and setting up the seating, so everyone is spaced far enough apart. She said her happy hour crowd is always tame and follows the rules.

“Then come about 11:30 is when things just start to go downhill, and people don’t wanna listen,” Larizza explained. “The only things out of our mouth are please sit down. You have to have a mask on. You can’t be standing up. Don’t move the chairs, and it’s just exhausting. We’ve had customers get physical with us because of it. We’ve had customers screaming at us because of it, and I just think people don’t realize these aren’t our rules. We don’t have a choice but to enforce them so we can stay open even if it is for limited hours.”

Larizza said she’s not happy she’s losing money, but understands the governor’s decision.

“It obviously doesn’t go away but keeping that late-night crowd at bay will help,” she said.

Larizza says she’s grateful that they’re still open and she still has her job...and is hopeful things will go back to normal eventually.

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