Springfield restaurant owner: ‘Shutting us down at 10 p.m. is not the answer’

Several Springfield bar and restaurant owners said they feel like their industry is being singled-out after curfews were extended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“They just keep putting all of these regulations on us and it seems like they are just targeting bars and restaurants,” DeAnne Bost, owner of the Harvester Inn, located at 2045 Lagonda Ave., said.

“My business and a lot of other businesses in town are built around late-night sales to pay the bills. For 13 years, that’s what we have been built on. We’ve had to change everything,” Tina Ramsey, owner of O’Conners Irish Pub, located at 2200 N. Limestone St., said. “It doesn’t feel fair.”

Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Dec. 30 that the state’s overnight coronavirus curfew was being extended for three more weeks until Jan. 23. This was the second time DeWine has extended the curfew for three weeks.

DeWine originally put the 21-day curfew into effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Nov. 19 as the state saw coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surge.

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The curfew does not apply to those going to and from work, those who have an emergency, or those who need medical care. The curfew is not intended to stop anyone from getting groceries or going to the pharmacy, DeWine said.

“This is a balanced approach that will slow down people coming together and impact the spread of the virus to the point that it can be controlled, and at the same time, not cause a catastrophic effect in the economy,” Lt. Governor Jon Husted previously said. “You have to care about both the economy and health - you can’t just care about one in isolation. Based on all of the recommendations we considered, a curfew was the most impactful option with the least disruption.”

“Shutting us down at 10 p.m. is not the answer,” Bost said. “If people want to be together, they’re going to find a way to be together.”

The Harvester Inn has lost most of their night business, Bost said.

“We keep hearing people aren’t coming out here, they’re just going to groups at homes. People are still gathering. They’re going to continue to gather whether it is here or at home,” Bost said.

She told the News-Sun that her sales are “way down” because the curfew has cut off 4 ½ hours of their daily sales. The Harvester Inn is usually open until 2:30 a.m. everyday.

“It used to be a steady thing every night and now it’s pray somebody comes in,” Bost said.

Ramsey described her sales in 2020 as “sickening.”

She said missing the holidays and late-night football games have contributed to her loss in business.

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Peter Catanzaro, owner of Fratelli’s Famiglia Ristorante, located at 42 N. Fountain Ave., said the curfew has taken away at least 30 percent of his business.

He described business as “consistently slow.”

Bost added that the curfew has limited dart and pool tournaments. She said the number of people that participate in the tournaments has decreased by about half because they need to finish the tournament before 10 p.m.

Picking up carryout or a drive-thru meal and ordering for delivery is permitted during the curfew, DeWine said.

All three bar and restaurant owners said they decided to not stay open after 10 p.m. for carryout only because they would not get enough orders to compensate for the costs of labor and keeping the lights on.

Prior to the coronavirus curfew, bar and restaurant owners were dealing with a 10 p.m. last call curfew for alcohol sales.

The 10 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales took effect on July 31 in an effort to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, but it has severely affected the restaurant and bar industry.

Ramsey previously said it was a “stressful situation sitting there watching the time clock and reminding people that they only have a limited time.”

Bar and restaurant owners have also reduced their seating capacity to enforce social distancing guidelines and limited their staff amid the pandemic.

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All three bar and restaurant owners are hoping that DeWine will begin to give their industry lifted restrictions or modifications that will help them survive.

“I’m ready for him (DeWine) to give us until midnight. Work with us. We’re working with him and doing everything he has been asking of us. This two-week, three-week curve has turned into nine months,” Ramsey said.

“We’ve done everything they’ve asked. Now it is their turn to step up and say this is what we’re going to do for you guys,” Catanzaro said.

Throughout the pandemic the governor has cautioned people to stay home and not go out in public unnecessarily.

Catanzaro said he thinks DeWine needs to come out and say that it is safe for people to go to bars and restaurants because they are being closely monitored by the health department.

The bar and restaurant owners expressed gratitude for their customers that are continuing to come out and support their businesses.

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