Oregon District patrons and workers washed down sadness and anger in the final minutes before 9 p.m. Sunday, the time when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all bars and restaurants in the state to cease on-site consumption to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Dublin Pub held a pared down version of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration they had planned for Tuesday. The band Jameson’s Folly played Irish folk tunes.
“A toast! We got seven more minutes of St. Patrick’s Day,” someone yelled jubilantly at 8:53 p.m.
Jeff Law ordered a round of Jameson whisky shots for the whole bar.
“This is my favorite place, and (this is) a way to thank the pub for what they’ve done and keep the spirit of the people high as we unite and fight this virus,” Law said when asked why he bought the round.
Law bought about 40 shots. The total crowd in the bar was large, possibly approaching the limit of 100 people placed on any gathering by DeWine amid the coronavirus crisis — though DeWine’s order had exempted bars until Sunday. But it was nothing compared to the shoulder-to-shoulder scrum that fills Dublin Pub every actual St. Patrick’s Day.
Some patrons were defiant, muttering expletives aimed at DeWine.
Pub owner Steve Tieber said he was “sad and heartbroken” that their marquee event was cancelled. But “the public’s health and safety come first for us.”
Like other area restaurants, Tieber said they plan to offer food pickup and delivery, keeping their waiters and bartenders employed as delivery drivers. On St. Patrick’s Day they plan to open at 5 a.m. to help people holed up in their homes celebrate the Irish holiday. They are looking into doing alcohol delivery as well.
Tieber said the coming weeks will be challenging for local businesses.
“Please support a local business because that money stays in the community,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s the Dublin Pub.”
Down Fifth Street, some bars usually open until 2:30 a.m. shuttered sharply at 9 p.m., such as Lucky’s Taproom, Ned Peppers and Hole in the Wall.
At Toxic Brew Company, employees had a drink as they closed down for who-knows-how-long. They politely declined to be interviewed, but expressed anger that their livelihoods were suddenly taken away.
“Last call!” yelled out a man exiting Blind Bob’s to the empty street as manager Andy Rowe locked the door behind him mere minutes after 9 p.m.
“We’ve been through a lot,” Rowe said of the Oregon District businesses and workers who persevered through a mass shooting only seven months ago.
Rowe said the mood in the bar Sunday was somber, especially among employees uncertain about how they’re going to make ends meet. He implored DeWine to find some way to provide service industry workers some safety net.
“I’m probably going to be selling my restaurant stock to my staff at cost so they don’t (expletive) starve,” he said.