CLEVELAND, Ohio — As the restaurant and bar industry begins to open patio seating, owners will continue to face challenges.
But when it comes to places like cocktail bars and night clubs, social distancing contradicts their design.
- Places like FWD Day + Nightclub in the Cleveland Flats East Bank can't adjust to social distancing guildelines with their standard practices
- The owner says nightlife in general will look very different for a while
- While some bars and clubs will try and reopen in the coming weeks, others said they'll stay closed through the summer
What You Need To Know
“The secret to our success, and you know, the secret sauce of entertainment-based venues, is density within the venue,” said Bobby Rutter, COO, Forward Hospitality Group.
Bobby Rutter is the COO of Forward Hospitality Group, which owns restaurants, bars and clubs across the state of Ohio, including their namesake: FWD Day + Nightclub in the Cleveland Flats East Bank.
“The vibe that you get from that isn't something that people can't get, you know, on their cell phone, they can't get at their house,” said Rutter.
The venue is allowed to open while following the distancing guidelines laid out by Governor DeWine— it just won’t be easy.
“It's a very difficult math problem to solve, I tell people this all the time, because we have restaurants too. I said if you told me I could open up my restaurant at 80 percent, I would say, well, restaurants fail every day that are 80 percent full.”
Some area cocktail bars like Spotted Owl, Porco Tiki Lounge and The Velvet Tango Room —places that thrive on close proximity to others and human interaction — have already announced they won't open again until August.
Though FWD is an outdoor business, they wont open this weekend. Rutter says they have to take it day by day.
“We will gauge if we want to do some stuff on a limited basis at some of our venues next week. It's a possibility. Some weather-dependent factors also, I think, exist. With better weather you can have better spacing and you can still have a decent experience and you can, you could do things but you know, from a financial standpoint, this is not how we make money.”
For the industry as a whole— bars, restaurants and clubs, Rutter believes it will come out stronger on the other side.
“We know that this time away from the industry to people has reassured that it's a vital part of our existence in America. It just is 100 percent ingrained in what we do."