Winking Lizard co-owner: Decision to shut down bars and restaurants was rushed in Ohio

Winking Lizard co-owner: Decision to shut down bars and restaurants was rushed in Ohio
Winking Lizard co-owner John Lane discusses the shutdown of Ohio bars and restaurants (Source: WOIO)

BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) -The co-owner of the Winking Lizard respects Gov. Mike DeWine’s decision-making during the coronavirus outbreak, but he said the shutdown of bars and restaurants was rushed.

Winking Lizard co-owner: Decision to shut down bars and restaurants was rushed in Ohio

“To give people in the industry 5 and a half hours to make decisions on livelihoods -- 24 hours would have been better so that we could meet and decide what we’re going to do with our inventory and our people,” said John Lane.

“Gov. DeWine, what he’s doing is protecting us in his mind,” he added.

But Lane said more time would have helped form a better plan for the 18 Winking Lizards and five Lizardville beer stores and whiskey bars.

He said every one of the nearly 1,300 employees will feel the impact in one way or another.

“Having to look at our employees in the eye and say ‘we can't use you right now,’ is heartbreaking,” Lane said. “Our people, rightfully so are scared.”

A final plan on how many employees will be left without work hasn’t been set.

Governor DeWine said unemployment benefits would be made available immediately for those affected by the order.

Lane said he hopes those employees will be able to take advantage; and receive as much of their original wages as possible.

The company has closed three of its restaurants; the Westerville, Grandview Heights and Gateway (downtown Cleveland) locations. All Lizardville’s will also close.

The others are offering a limited menu for carryout only.

“Doing this so sudden, we don't want to create panic,” he said of the Governor’s decision, again pointing to the short notice given to the establishments. “It’s just adding to the panic. Somehow, some way, we have got to settle down and urge calm.”

For now, Winking Lizard is freezing some food inventory and cutting off incoming deliveries.

Lane estimates revenue losses will reach hundreds of thousands of dollars but is confident the company will weather the storm.

He fears the worst for other businesses.

“I think you’re going to see a lot (of businesses) that don’t make it through this. That’s pretty sad,” he said.

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