Some Cleveland restaurants, bars prepare to reopen after long closures

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Clevelanders will have a few more dining options next month as several restaurants prepare to reopen after being shuttered for months.

One of those, the Winking Lizard Tavern’s gateway location downtown, will reopen on March 8, almost a year to the day that it closed.

“We reopened a lot of our stores on May 21 up in through June but we got hit by the riots in downtown Cleveland and it just didn’t make sense to reopen,” said co-owner John Lane.

Market Garden Brewery, Bier Markt, Bar Cento and Nano Brew in Ohio City will also reopen on March 10 after being closed since November.

“We’ve been really excited to reopen for some time now but we’ve kind of been watching the trends and making sure things were going in a positive direction,” said owner Sam McNulty.

Both owners say the state lifting its curfew and local stay-at-home advisories expiring were big parts of the decision to reopen.

“To us that meant the numbers are going in a great direction the future looks positive, that brighter days lie ahead, let’s get back to work,” said McNulty.

“It’s psychological that, you know, people can feel safe, you know were getting vaccine out there, the virus is going down so we want to get a little bit ahead of the curve,” said Lane.

While Winking Lizard has another location downtown, they say it’s been the weakest in sales.

Still, Lane says they’re seeing an upwards trend in downtown business. 

“We’re hearing and were hoping that by April 1 a lot more people will be working downtown,” he said.

They are also banking on the possibility of baseball fans in the spring to supplement the Cavs fans, which they say right now isn’t enough to sustain the downtown restaurants.

“I’m hoping because Indians, it’s outdoor that the governor allows a lot more people to go in there just like he did for Browns stadium,” said Lane.

That would be the icing — but the Lane tell us they need the cake to survive. 

“Until more and more people are working downtown, going to the office, you know and we get some kind of lunch crowd and happy hour crowd before the Cavs games and before the Indians games, it’s still gonna be a little rough for a little while,” Lane said.

McNulty is also seeing more people come to Ohio City and is planning to celebrate the return leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, the same time last year that everything closed.

“St. Patrick deserves more than just one day so we’re gonna have a whole week of St. Patrick’s celebration starting on March 10,” he said

During their most recent closure since November, McNulty and his business partner spent a quarter of a million dollars on their four locations.

“UV air filters, we spent a lot of money improving the spaces, making sure everything repainted, refinished,” he said

With more outdoor dining and spring ahead, these owners are hoping for new life for their business as well.

“I’m real bullish on the future for not only us but our industry,” said Lane.

“Definitely better times lie ahead, there’s no doubt,” agreed McNulty.

We also have learned from McNulty that Great Lakes Brewery plans to reopen on St. Patrick’s Day and that there will be a special beer collaboration released by the two companies on that day.

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