Fewer fans for Indians home opener means less people at downtown bars and restaurants

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Smaller crowds gathered at downtown restaurants for the Indians home opener this year

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – Heading to downtown Cleveland bars and restaurants before the Indians season home opener, somewhat of a rite of passage for many fans.

Carmen DeFranco said, “We’ve been to every opening day I think since ’02 or ’01, and so missing last year was pretty disheartening for us.”

But for the general managers of many of the popular establishments near Progressive Field, this is not exactly what they were expecting.

At Johnny’s Little Bar, off East 9th Street, tables nearly empty just a couple of hours before the first pitch.

General Manager David Flowers said, “It is not even coming close to years past unfortunately with the minimized attendance, it’s taken its impact, I mean right now you’ll look inside, not really much going on.”

But for bars along Huron, closer to Progressive Field, much busier on outdoor patios.

But with CDC guidelines still in place, getting fans to comply is proving to be a bit challenging.

Winking Lizard Regional Manager Kevin Quigley said, “You’re kinda like in your own little bubble when you’re in our restaurants. We have a dividers at our bar top too. The biggest challenge has been the masks, a lot of people try to come in and they don’t have it on so it’s just the friendly reminders.”

Quigley says in years past, doors would’ve opened to fans at 8 a.m. on an opening day.

This year, they opened at 10 a.m. to a handful of people…with crowds growing larger, closer to first pitch.

Fan Carmen DeFranco added, “Now that we can have fans back again, we’re the first ones in line. We’ll be there every time for our Tribe.”

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