Restaurant openings, closings and more Central Ohio food and drink news

In an effort to control the spread of COVID-19, the Ohio Liquor Control Commission this morning approved an emergency rule banning alcohol sales after 10 p.m. at Ohio’s bars and restaurants. Under the new rule, which was passed by a 3-0 vote, food sales can continue past 10 p.m. and customers may finish consuming their alcoholic beverages until 11 p.m. Once Gov. Mike DeWine signs the order, the new last call rule will take effect tonight.

“We continue to have concerns about our bars. We’ve seen outbreaks associated with bars across Ohio, including Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus,” Gov. Mike DeWine said during a Thursday press conference, before announcing that he’d asked liquor control to meet Friday to consider the emergency rule. DeWine went on to commend most bar owners for their efforts in operating safely amid the pandemic. “Sadly, not every bar is doing that,” he said. 

DeWine said that the Ohio Investigative Unit had visited bars around the state last week and found that some were operating with no safety measures in place and “people packed on dance floors shoulder to shoulder.”

“We do not want to shut down Ohio bars and restaurants,” DeWine said. “That would be devastating to them, but we do have to take some action and see what kind of results we get from this action.” 

Starting Friday, all liquor permit holders that allow for on-premise consumption must cease alcohol sales at 10 p.m. nightly. Consumption must be completed by 11 p.m. “We think it will help thin that crowd out and help slow the spread,” DeWine said Thursday.

Ohio’s new last call rule follows a contentious week between the city of Columbus and some bar and restaurant owners. On Monday, the Columbus City Council passed an ordinance that would close bars, nightclubs and restaurants at 10 p.m. The following morning, business owners opposing the order filed suit against the city. By Tuesday afternoon, the ordinance was blocked by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Mark Serrott, who granted a 14-day restraining order to allow time for further assessment.  

Under state’s new last call rule, carryout cocktails will still be available, and it expands the number of carryout cocktails that can be purchased with a meal from two to three cocktails.

Openings

After a long wait, What the Waffle opens its first brick-and-mortar at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, in the King-Lincoln District. Gayle Troy’s breakfast-focused eatery first launched at Olde Towne East’s Food Hub in 2016 and closed the following year ahead of plans to open in King-Lincoln. To start, the restaurant at 695 E. Long St. will serve carryout-only breakfast, brunch and lunch.

Closings

The Clintonville breakfast spot BLunch (2973 N. High St.) announced on social media yesterday that this weekend will be its last. “We are so sad to be leaving this great community, but the pandemic has taken its toll on us many times over!” the post said. Owners Jane and Jeff White opened BLunch in the fall of 2017, and it was named one of Columbus Monthly’s Best New Restaurants.