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Cleveland Brewery Closes Due To Customers Not Following COVID-19 Rules

Forest City Brewery, in Tremont, will close until further notice due to COVID-19 concerns. [Natalia Garcia / ideastream]
Forest City Brewery, in Tremont, will close until further notice due to COVID-19 concerns. [Natalia Garcia / ideastream]

A popular local brewery is temporarily closing its doors due to COVID-19 risks and customers not following the rules.

Forest City Brewery in Tremont’s Duck Island neighborhood will close to the public July 22. No employees have tested positive for COVID-19, but it was too risky to stay open while cases are rising in Cuyahoga County, said owner Jay Demagall.

There was also concern that some customers were not adhering to COVID-19 requirements, he said.

“People were still breaking the rules and putting themselves and other people at risk, and we didn’t want to get to the point where somebody did get sick here,” Demagall said.

When the business was allowed to reopen in May, tight restrictions were put in place, Demagall said. For example, patrons were required to wear masks anytime they were moving around or indoors. Reservations were also limited to six people per table.

Demagall and other managers tried to enforce the measures, he said, but that didn’t always work.

“Sometimes people wouldn’t even listen,” he said. “It was a small minority, but that’s all it takes.”

Demagall said that made him worry about getting cited by the Cleveland Health Department or by state officials. Several Cleveland businesses were cited over the weekend for not following state orders.

“If I turn my back for five minutes and six people congregate and don’t have their masks on, standing around drinking a beer, we could have been in the same boat as some of those other places. It’s not worth the risk to our business and the health of the employees and the customers,” Demagall said.

Three employees were laid off as a result of the closure, he said.

In the meantime, the brewery will remain open for a small group of patrons who are members of a private club, Demagall said. He also plans to continue some takeout service.

Other small businesses in the restaurant industry have had to close due to infected employees, Demagall said. Others are struggling to enforce city and state health orders.

“We’re not equipped or built to handle a pandemic. Whatever the rules may be,” he said.



Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.