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Postcards From The Pandemic: Ohio City Brewery Won't Open Yet

Bars and restaurants in Ohio reopen for outdoor dining on March 15 and indoors on the 21st. Sam McNulty co-owns Market Garden Brewery and several other establishments on West 25th Street in Cleveland. His businesses will remain closed.

The problem, according to McNulty, is that social distancing requirements and lowered occupancy make opening not worth the trouble. He has lobbied the city to expand outdoor dining, though it’s not clear if any progress has been made toward that goal. So he’ll keep brewing beer and waiting.


Not Financially Feasible

We're fortunate in that the production brewery is considered light manufacturing so it's considered essential. I wholeheartedly agree with our governor that beer is essential right now. We haven’t stopped brewing beer at Market Garden throughout the COVID storm as it were.

You'll see Market Garden cans and bottles on store shelves and grocery stores and corner shops, but our restaurants will not be opening on the 21st. Right now that's just not financially feasible to do so with all the limitations in place.


One of McNulty's restaurants in Ohio City. It remains closed except for beer purchases. [Matthew Richmond / ideastream]

Built for On-Site Dining

There are so many unknowns right now but one thing is for sure - if the limited capacity requirements continue for very long, the restaurant industry as we know it will cease to exist.


An almost empty parking lot outside Market Garden Brewery. [Matthew Richmond / ideastream]

We’ve built our businesses on the experience we provide. Everything from the musical tapestry to the social interaction, to the décor, the ambience, hot plates with hot food on it and a cold Market Garden beer that’s been brewed on site.

We’ve always done some to-go food. It’s never been the crux of our business. I don’t see that changing.

When the day comes that we can go back into business and fully serve customers within our four walls, that’s really the day we’re looking forward to.

Street Dining

One of the big things that will help us get ready to open and at least able to break even is to open up streets to expanded patios.

The idea is, instead of a parking lane on West 25th Street here in Ohio City, Market Garden Brewery would expand its patio into the parking lane so that a substantial number of people could gather safely distanced.


McNulty is proposing eliminating this parking area and replacing it with expanded patio seating. [Matthew Richmond / ideastream]

I would love to tell you that I'm optimistic that our mayor and city hall is going to act quickly and decisively and in a visionary manner.


Sam McNulty says without expanded patio seating, his restaurants will stay closed indefinitely. [Sam McNulty]

It's been a fight now for years to get bike lanes added to streets. So the idea of expanding patios into streets, with the conservative leadership that we have, might take some time.

Copyright 2021 90.3 WCPN ideastream. To see more, visit 90.3 WCPN ideastream.