Nighttown Closing After Weekend For 8 Weeks Due To Coronavirus

Photo of bass player Cecil McBee performing at Nighttown [Dan Polletta/ideastream]
Bass player Cecil McBee [Dan Polletta/ideastream]

With the coronavirus spreading, Nighttown owner Brendan Ring began thinking about what his Cleveland Heights restaurant is like on one of its busiest days of the year.

“At Nighttown on St. Patrick's Day… ‘How can I put 800 or 500 people in a room?’ Ring said. “I was listing to Gov. DeWine talking about (banning gatherings of over) 100 people, excluding restaurants. I thought to myself, ‘that doesn't even make sense if it's one hundred people in a restaurant or a gym or a hotel.’ With a heavy heart, I decided it's the right thing to do.”

While Ring was concerned about all of his patrons, he had one group in particular in mind.

“I have quite a number of elderly customers that come in to me, and we're a local community restaurant. if I'm part of spreading it, I'm spreading it to my own community near Nighttown. I just I can't do it,” Ring said.

Telling his employees that the restaurant would be closing for a period was “hard,” Ring said.

“I told them that hopefully it won't be eight weeks, but we have to buckle down for eight weeks. I told everyone to go on unemployment immediately,” Ring said.

When small businesses have employees file for unemployment benefits, their unemployment insurance premiums go up.  Ring hopes that the state government might intervene on the behalf of businesses.

Ring isn’t the only who will be closing his restaurant for a period because of the coronavirus.

“I've been on the phone with a number of restaurants, other people are going to do what I did. I've been told by three different people this morning ‘you did the right thing. We're going to announce we're doing the same thing’ and they're going to have to lay off,” Ring said.

The economic effects of closing restaurants extends beyond the businesses itself to food purveyors. While some restaurants will be able to survive shutting their doors for a period, Ring is afraid many won’t be able to afford to stay open in the long run.

“A lot of people that are holding on by the skin of their teeth. They're going to go away first. Restaurants are going to close as a result of this, there's no doubt in my mind,” Ring said.

Ring’s own restaurant will incur major financial losses during the time Nighttown is closed.

“We do about $60-65,000 a week in business, and that's evaporated immediately,” he said. “You can do the math for eight weeks. There will be a longer effect on that, too. We're the kind of place that does a lot of big, large events, parties, music and stuff like that.”

In addition to being a restaurant, Nighttown is a major presenter of music.

“I directed my music guy, Jim Wadsworth, to cancel all our music events between now and May 18th. That's going to affect all those poor musicians that are on the road. I did talk to a music venue here in Cleveland, too, who said that all their bands for the next two months have canceled on them. So they're getting it from both sides,” Ring said.

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