Local bar owner asks governor to extend hours for liquor sales, cites revenue losses

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio (WJW) — Many restaurant and bar owners across the state say they are still suffering financially due to the COVID-19 crisis and believe their best chance to survive is to be open later during the evening hours.

Dan Budreo, who owns Craggy Bogland’s in Willoughby, wrote a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine last week asking him to allow bars to serve alcohol until midnight.

Currently, bars must stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m., a restriction DeWine added to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“This year over last year, we will be down about 50 percent,” Budreo told the I-Team. “This 10 p.m. last call and you can drink until 11 seems very arbitrary. Most people are leaving and going to house parties. At least here, we have social distancing and other COVID-19 regulations in place. “

Budreo decided to write the letter and post it on his Facebook page last week, after his bar was empty during the fourth quarter of the Browns game.

“We had probably 20 to 25 people here and then about 8 at halftime,” Budreo said. “Then they thought it was a good time to go to their home or their friend’s house to watch the rest of the game.”

We reached out to the governor’s office. A spokesman said they have heard from several communities, including Akron, Columbus, and Dayton that have found the policy helpful in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

The spokesman added that they will continue to review the effectiveness of the order as the pandemic progresses.

Several other local bar and restaurant owners say they too would like the early cutoff and other restrictions to end.

“Right now my dining room, it’s at half capacity, half the tables and it looks like a plexiglass prison,” said Fabio Salerno, chef and owner of Lago East Bank. “We are testing every week, this is a huge expense, but we do it so we are responsible. When you add these guidelines on top of what are we doing, it’s just simple mathematics to say that the majority of establishments are not going to be able to make it. “

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