LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WOIO) - The night before Thanksgiving is when hometown friends normally try to catch up at the neighborhood watering hole.
But this year, COVID-19 is changing all of it from personal choices to places to meet.
The typical party night of the year for friends and family pack bars and restaurants to catch up on each other’s lives appears non-existent this Thanksgiving Eve.
A statewide curfew and a number of on-going restrictions for bars and restaurants has COVID-19 controlling what we choose to do this holiday.
Lakewood’s Mars Bar and Café Owner George Gountis said, “I’m really unsure to tell you the truth – it’s going to be a toss up. Because we understand people want to visit their family, and a few people have already been quarantining so they can visit loved ones.”
19 News for the most part found no crowds at most bars and restaurants on Wednesday night.
This was likely because there is a 10 p.m. curfew in Ohio, an earlier closing time for food and liquor establishments, and other restrictions that include social distancing, mandatory masks in public, and limited capacity.
“The time especially – that’s what’s killing us. Closing this early. I mean we understand you know it’s just one of those things. When 10 o’clock comes around that’s usually when we start getting busy,” Gountis said.
He’s even more thankful this Thanksgiving for a community and regular customers who keep him going by ordering takeout.
But he also understands the reason behind the COVID-19 restrictions with a record number of Ohioans being infected by the virus and hospitalized.
“I think people will be a little bit weary of coming out – just for the reason they want to be safe around loved ones like grandparents,” Gountis said.
Tom Wcislo of Brook Park said he feels safe dining out at the Mars Bar because he feels they take precautions that protect everyone.
But he’s not surprised a popular night for hanging out is just the opposite in 2020 because bars and restaurants are forced to close early to try and keep the COVID-19 numbers down.
“That or they’re taking their own precautions and they’re staying at home. Which is just as well,” Wcislo said.
The Mars Bar and Café in Lakewood will be open on Thanksgiving from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. with a dine-in or takeout menu that includes all of the traditional Thanksgiving favorites.
The owner is hoping that will make up for some of what’s been lost because of an earlier closing time.