Local bars ‘weathering storm’ of 10 p.m. alcohol ban

One week later, local bars react to 10 p.m. last-call order

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - It’s been a week since Ohio’s bars and restaurants were ordered to halt alcohol sales nightly at 10 p.m., and some Cincinnati bars are feeling the effects.

Bar owners say the Ohio Liquor Control Commission rule, which was passed July 31, is taking a chunk out of badly-needed revenue.

“We’re positioned to weather the storm for awhile,” Jefferson Social Manager Chris Reefe told FOX19 NOW. “The question is, how long is the storm going to last?”

Keefe says his bar and other bars at The Banks gained some momentum returning from the COVID-19 restrictions in early summer, then the new liquor rules came as something of a sucker-punch.

“Going from 2 a.m. operating hours to 10 p.m. has put us from being able to operate in the black a little bit to operating at a loss,” he explained.

The owner of Treehouse Patio in Over-the-Rhine, Jay Rodg, says he relies on the late-night crowd.

“The majority of our sales come between 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.,” he explained.

While his bar has taken a hit, Rodg says he’s more perturbed at how poorly the state prepared Ohio’s bars for the change.

“To have it happen on a Friday and go into effect on a Friday doesn’t give a lot of warning,” he said.

Keefe is grateful alcohol can still be served in Ohio’s bars, as currently Kentucky’s bars cannot do the same. But he adds the new regulation has made turning a profit difficult, profits he says will be badly needed once the warm weather cools.

“I’m (...) talking about turning a profit, where we can save a little bit of money to get us through the winter, because we’re expecting, once we lost the patio, if coronavirus gets worse, we have more restrictions on us,” he said. “We’re just trying to save some money to stay afloat.”

As Keefe and Rodg head into the second week of the new regulation, they both say they’re happy to do their part to preserve public health, and that they’ll continue to fight not to let the hardship of the order close their business.

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