Local bars prepare for Browns fans amid Covid-19


CLEVELAND (WJW) –– As the Cleveland Browns prepare to start the 2020 football season, bars and restaurants are making preparations of their own for the fans.

“We’re just gonna take it one game at a time. We’re hopeful that this week can go smoothly” said Alex Budin, the owner of Jukebox in the “Hingetown” area of Ohio City.

The bar only reopened four weeks ago to outdoor service and strongly encourages reservations. “When guests arrive at the front door, we check em in by group size, we take temperature checks for everyone entering the patio.”

Budin says they started a Hingetown chapter of the “Browns Backers” fan group in 2018 and will be hosting this Sunday’s watch party safely with a new viewing set up on their patio.”We’ll have game sound, TVs for viewing.”

The viewing experience will also be different for the fans that stop by the Winking Lizard Tavern in the Galleria on E. 9th St near First Energy Stadium.

They are reopening on Sundays for home games at 10 am and away games at noon.

“We usually jam people in here and we do a big tailgate type of area on our patio and we’re not gonna have anything along those lines this year,” said Regional Manager Kevin Quigley.

They are encouraged by the governor’s variance allowing as many as 6,000 fans in the stadium for the first two home games.

“With us being the last stop on 9th St. before the stadium, we’re hoping that people are gonna stop here for some beer and some good food prior to the game because you can’t tailgate anymore.”

Quigley says they have measured six feet distance between tables from every angle and have dividers at the bar. “We’re actually going to extend our cafe seating even further to add hopefully 4 more tables,” said Quigley.

Gov. DeWine’s current cap on alcohol sales at 10 pm and requirement for patrons to finish their drinks by 11 pm applied to all bars and restaurants, and will coincide with Thursday night’s home game against the Bengals.

“We don’t anticipate any issues with that but we will stay open until the game is completely over,” said Quigley based on what he’s observed in their establishments since the restriction was put in place.

But some, Budin suggested, may decide to finish the game at home.”With an 8:30 kick-off, it’s likely that by 10’oclock you’re getting to or at halftime.”

Masks are required at both bars except when eating and drinking while seated. They say safety is the priority.

With space restrictions and COVID regulations in place, bars and restaurants are having to get creative to keep fans safe while still delivering a game-day experience.

“We brought in, Platform has an official beer partnership with the Cleveland Browns, a Muni Lot Hazy Session Pale Ale in a 16 oz can and the famous Joe Thomas Kolsh from Great Lake Brewing company, we’ve got plenty of it in house,” said Budin.

And while it’s a year like no other, Quigley says they’re still looking forward to the season. “We’re ready for it and we’re really excited to welcome the Browns fans back.”

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