First weekend of Ohio’s last call orders hits Columbus bars hard

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — As the first weekend of having the order in place comes to a close, local bars are feeling the effects of the 10 p.m. last call order.

It’s an effort from Gov. Mike DeWine to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Restaurants said Friday and Saturday went as they expected, with owners saying then that they’d lose out on a lot of sales by not being able to sell drinks after 10 p.m., and that’s what they said happened.

DeWine has acknowledged most bars are following rules from the Ohio Department of Health, but said the earlier last call will thin out crowds and help slow the spread of the virus.

While drinks have to be finished by 11 p.m., bars and restaurants can stay open later just to serve food. However, many said that’s not worth it.

Fours on High usually relies on the late-night crowd. They adjusted their hours and opened a little earlier, then closed at 11 p.m.

The manager said sales for this weekend were down at least 50 to 60 percent of what the bar had recently been doing on weekends.

“Obviously losing those sales from 10 to 2 is drastic for all businesses, not just us,” said Fours manager Cory Harmon.

The general manager of Yogi’s in Columbus said they took a big hit this weekend, too.

“Probably a third of our sales that we would normally have is just gone,” said Yogi’s general manager Taylor Childs. “Especially on a Friday and Saturday to do it. It wouldn’t be that bad if it was a weekday, but to start it on a Friday, it kills all momentum going into the weekend and it’s tough to rebound that going into this week.”

Childs estimated Yogi’s sales were down 30 percent for the weekend.

“Our food is a small part of our business,” Childs said. “We sell a lot of beer, a lot of other drinks, mixed drinks, so that’s 75 percent of everything we sell is liquid. So the food is just not enough to sustain us.”

Harmon said it was odd to see an empty, shuttered High Street at 11:15 p.m. on a Friday.

“There’s no one out on the streets, not even cars,” he said. “It’s just awkward, kind of eerie.”

Sunday saw a similar story. With the Blue Jackets back on the ice, fans and bar owners were excited to see the team play. However, they weren’t excited about the 10 p.m. last call.

“That last call order is very frustrating for all the bar owners out here,” said Michael Darr, owner of R Bar Arena. “We have live hockey, live sports going on now. This is where we make our money.”

Under the order, taps must be off and drinks must be poured by 10. People then have until 11 p.m. to finish them. For R Bar, that meant a 9:45 p.m. last call Sunday, even with the CBJ game still going on.

Darr said while players are taking hits, some businesses are as well.

“We’ve followed the rules constantly and we’re still getting blamed for the spread,” he said.

The Ohio Investigative Unit did not issue any citations to bars in the Columbus area this weekend for serving drinks too late.

An attorney representing several bars said he plans to file a lawsuit over the order on Monday.

Coronavirus in Ohio resources:

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