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Ohio Senate passes bill to expand outdoor seating for bars, restaurants

The emergency measure is designed to help the financially struggling bar and restaurant industry.

By a vote of 30-2, the Ohio Senate voted to approve an emergency measure that allows for expanding outdoor seating.

The co-owner of Wolf's Ridge Brewing says he's grateful he has a permit to serve customers outside with an expanded patio.

“It has increased sales 50% from the same period of August,” Bob Szuter said.

But with winter coming, the cold reality of running a business with fewer customers already has him worried.

“Without significant changes for us, I don't know if we will be here this time next year,” he said.

What he's talking about is help from the federal government like the paycheck protection program which expired.

“At the end of the day, I think the government needs to step up and bail out bars and restaurants like they did banks and auto industries,” he said.

Szuter says he's gone from 77 employees to 54 employees because of the pandemic.

To make up for lost money he created a statewide beer delivery system and he plans to open his dining room in October.

On Wednesday, the Senate passed additional legislation to help bars by voting to approve "to-go" cocktails only when a meal is ordered and only three drinks per order.

Szuter doesn’t see it as helping his bottom line. He worries that if lawmakers in Washington don't provide financial help for his industry a wave of bankruptcies will follow.

“If nothing is done soon, you're going to see a lot more closures and it's going to be a big tidal wave,” he said.

There are many in the bar industry who believe if the state had not cut off liquor sales after 10 p.m. back in July, businesses would be in much better financial shape.

Governor Mike DeWine has not indicated he plans to amend that order.

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