First night with early last call in place, lawsuit expected Monday


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Bar owners and patrons are adjusting to new hours after Gov. Mike DeWine signed an order mandating a 10 p.m. last call at establishments statewide. Friday was the first night with the order in place. By 10:15, bars in the Short North were showing signs of closing although they can technically stay open until 11 while people finish drinks.  

At Fours on High street, the doors were closed right at 10 p.m. Owner Scott Ellsworth says usually most of their business starts at that time. But now that’s when business is ending. 

“When they said 10:00 it was like laughable. You just cut our legs completely,” Ellsworth said. “They’ve been chipping away month after month. We’re jumping over the hurdles with less and less legs every time. Now, we’re running smack dab into the hurdle because we can’t jump anymore.” 

Under the order, establishments can still serve food until they decide to close. Fours serves food but Ellsworth says staying open only serving food doesn’t make sense for business. 

“Majority of bars do such a minimal amount of food,” he said. “Here we probably do 10 percent food. That’s not worth staying open for.”

On multiple occasions, Gov. DeWine has said coronavirus outbreaks have been linked to bars. He said the last call mandate will help thin out crowds and slow the spread. He has also acknowledged most bars are following the rules and only a handful are not. Bar owners feel like the new last call is a punishment for the whole industry in the state. 

“Why do they have to bring everybody down when only a half of one percent of the bars are actually doing things wrong,” said Dan Starek, owner of Oldfield’s North Fourth Tavern near campus.  

Earlier this week, a Columbus ordinance that would have closed bars and restaurants in the capital city at 10 p.m. was temporarily blocked by a Franklin County judge. The same attorney who represented bars in that case tells NBC4 he plans to file a lawsuit over the last call order on Monday. 

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