CLEVELAND (WJW)– The FOX 8 I-Team found a court just cleared the way for the Barley House, one of the most popular bars in Cleveland, to stay open.
Months ago, the Ohio Liquor Control Commission moved to take away the liquor license from the Barley House for violating health orders tied to COVID-19. State agents captured video of crowds inside and they cited the bar three times.
But a judge in Columbus, Thursday, reversed the order of the liquor commission.
“They set us up for failure. And then they come and try to bust us, and they expect me not to fight back. It’s unrealistic. The judge made the right decision,” said Bobby George, Barley House owner.
Reviewing the court ruling the judge did not say the state had no right to enforce health orders. Instead, the judge concluded Barley House did not get a fair hearing. The judge found the state did not bring in any experts for Barley House to question and challenge.
“According to the opinion, the revocation is thrown out. The people of Barley House get to keep their jobs,” said Ed Hastie, attorney for the bar.
But, the ruling also sends the case back to the liquor commission.
Executive Director Sarah Creedon issued a short statement that said, “The commission did receive a copy of the decision, and we are currently reviewing it. “
The ruling points out the liquor commission could still attempt to punish Barley House for serving after curfew. The commission could hold a new hearing on the COVID health order violations.
“The way the state enforced these rules was unfair, and we’ll continue to say that until there’s no voice left,” Hastie said.
In the Warehouse District, we shared the news with some people passing by the Barley House and they reacted with surprise.
We also asked the owner to explain some of the video that came to light. It showed groups of people and a lack of social distancing for some customers.
“There wasn’t a lot of people there. If you look at the video, we did have the dividers, and we did our best to follow the rules,” George said.
The judge also made it clear in his ruling he was not deciding Constitutional issues. So, no one we spoke with could say immediately if this ruling will have an impact on any other bars and restaurants faced with punishment over the COVID-19 health orders.
For now, the party at Barley House isn’t over after all.