CLEVELAND — As the Browns and Buckeyes play their biggest games in years, bar owners will have to shut down halfway through the games because of the curfew.
Dina Walsh has owned Dina’s Pizza and Pub in Old Brooklyn for 35 years. Her dine-in business has been slashed by as much as 40% during the pandemic and could use a night where Buckeye and Browns fans flocked to the local establishments.
“Nobody wants to lose business or go out of business, it’s just crazy times for everybody,” Walsh said.
A 1 p.m. kickoff could’ve boosted sales, even during a pandemic. But the Browns drew a prime-time kickoff against the archrival Steelers, and by the time the second quarter rolls around patrons will be rolling home thanks to the curfew.
“The night game is hard because a lot of people aren’t even going to come in because they have to leave in the middle of a game, so that’s a big problem,” Walsh said.
The following night, Ohio State takes on Alabama for the National Championship, another late-night kickoff. It’s the first time the Buckeyes have played for a national title since 2015.
“I honestly think you’re safer coming out to a restaurant than you are at home, having your house parties," Walsh said. “Because at least when people are here, they’re wearing their mask, to go to the restroom.”
Bars and restaurants in Ohio asked Governor Mike DeWine for an exemption for the curfew for at least two nights. Back-to-back nights of big business could've been a Hail Mary, even during a pandemic.
“It’s critical for those that rely on tips. I had to cut the staff. Everyone is working but they’re just working less hours,” Walsh said.”
Fortunately, Dina’s has been surviving on take-out orders. They’ve also installed the customary plexiglass dividers at the bar and have even gone so far as to install a UV lighting system in the HVAC unit.
“It’s been 18 years, people need something to live for, and in Cleveland, it’s the Browns,” Walsh said. “Have some faith that these business owners are taking it to the next level to keep you safe.”