MANSFIELD ─ Bar owners are excited to see some normalcy back in their business.
On Thursday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the statewide COVID-19 curfew has been lifted. The order was in effect for almost three months and initially from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. DeWine shortened it in late January to 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. because of the improving hospitalization numbers.
Lance Gutchall was happy about the news. The owner of Weber’s Bar in Shelby said it was rough to cut off the business at night, especially when there was a Browns’ or Buckeyes’ game on TV.
“People got in here and at halftime, you had to send them home,” Gutchall said.
Some customers told him, “Gosh, we’re having such a good time with friends.” Most of them understood and left on time.
Gutchall said his liquor license allows the business to stay open until 2:30 a.m. With the curfew expired, his bar can continue serving people who work the second shift and get off work late.
Weber’s Bar is close to ArcelorMittal Shelby. Gutchall said many workers get off work at midnight and might only find food at a gas station. He was happy to get back some of those customers who usually just want a beer and a burger.
Candiss Patrick, owner of the Red Fox Tavern on Marion Avenue in Mansfield, said she received a lot of customers’ messages on social media and through text after the curfew was lifted on Thursday. Everyone was happy and sent their congratulations to her.
“I think that we're incredibly grateful to have just a little piece of normalcy back in our lives,” Patrick said.
She also said it is crazy to think the pandemic has been here for almost a year. Now, there is the first step to feeling normal.
Red Fox Tavern now will be open until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. It closes at midnight from Monday to Wednesday. Patrick said she is curious to see how her customers would react to the adjustment because they have been so used to the 10 o’clock curfew.
Mansfield residents have been supportive to the bars in the past year. Patrick said she was grateful for the “amazing” amount of support.
“I cannot stress this enough because there are people that maybe have never even been to the Red Fox Tavern that would just stop in and buy gift cards,” she said. “If it wasn't for the community support, it's possible that maybe we wouldn't have made it.”
Mike Martin can relate to that. The supervisor of MVP’s Sports Bar and Grille said loyal customers for the past 11 years have been their biggest support amid the pandemic.
The bar was ecstatic for the downtown business community with the lifted curfew. It lost about two hours of business every day when the order was in effect.
Matin said MVP’s was able to “weather the storm” by its food and beverage services. The business started to pick up after Richland County was no longer rated “purple” in Ohio Public Health Advisory System.