Cleveland Heights jazz staple Nighttown to reopen for dine-in customers

Posted at 8:22 AM, Jun 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-28 08:22:39-04

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Nighttown in Cleveland Heights is reopening for dine-in customers on Wednesday, July 1, but live entertainment is still on hold for capacity reasons.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Brendan Ring said he has practiced the “better safe than sorry” mentality.

He closed his restaurant days before others shut down and it has remained closed weeks longer than other restaurants in Northeast Ohio.

Ring said he has taken advice from fellow restaurateurs about what has worked and what hasn’t as it pertains to social distancing.

There are now plastic dividers between bar seats and restaurant staff has made both ordering and paying for a meal completely touchless using a QR code and a smartphone.

But as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases are climbing in Ohio, new questions are being raised about the safety of dining at restaurants and bars.

“We’re going to close on Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” Ring said, “And Wednesday is actually going to be a cleaning day, a deep cleaning day every week, so when we open back on Thursday we’ll be good.”

In recent weeks, a handful of businesses in Northeast Ohio have temporarily closed and notified the public after employees tested positive for COVID-19.

“If it does happen, we will do exactly what a great operator like Mitchell’s [Homemade Ice Cream] does,” Ring said. “We’ll close, clean and go back to stage one again I guess.”

Businesses in Cuyahoga County are not required to inform the public if an employee tests positive, but Ring said he would release that information immediately.

“Every single room here is covered with cameras. There’s 20 something odd cameras,” Ring said. “And if in the unfortunate event that someone did come down with COVID, we can go back 30 days and I can see where that person interacted with what customers, who they interacted with.”

While Nighttown staff has waited nearly four months to reopen, Ring said he is not counting out the possibility of another state-mandated stay-at-home order, in which case he would have to close his doors again.

“I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to think that that could happen here too because this thing hasn’t gone away. Let’s face it,” Ring said, “And the more we open up, the more it’s going to be out there.”

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