Northeast Ohio Bars Take New RNC Liquor Waiver in Stride

xWith the 2016 Republican National Convention approaching Cleveland this July, the Ohio Senate has taken leaps to ensure Convention-goers both work and play hard. Passing a law that allows current liquor permit holders to extend hours of operation, the Senate has pushed for local bars to remain open until 4 a.m., to both the pleasure and dismay of those who run them.

“It’s exciting,” George Petriga, manager of Flannery’s Pub East 4th location said. “Obviously from a money-making aspect, but also from other aspects. We get to be a part of something bigger than just the bar.”

The new permit or “special event waiver” as the Senate phrased it will allow approved bars and restaurants to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. between July 17 and 21. Previously, those with liquor licenses were only permitted to serve alcohol until 2:30 a.m.

“I’m not exactly looking forward to it,” Flannery’s bartender Kate Klancher said. Flannery’s has already submitted its application for the waiver, though it isn’t due to local city governments until March 21. “It’s going to be rowdy. It’s going to be loud, and none of us are going to get home until 6 a.m. the next day.”

Though the Republican National Convention will take place solely in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, waivers are available to Geauga, Lake, Summit, Portage, Medina, Lorain and Cuyahoga counties.

“Our manager’s looking into it,” Kent’s Ray’s Place bartender John Petras said. “I really doubt anyone from the convention will make it over here but it’s another reason to invite people in and party.”

The 31 year old said he isn’t concerned with overwhelming crowds.

“If anything, I’m more nervous it’ll get too political, and I’ll offend someone,” Petras said.

With an anticipated turnout of the convention at 20,000 people, Klancher said she isn’t sold that the 4 a.m. waiver won’t be a nightmare.

“I have no doubt it’s going to absolutely flood downtown,” she said. “I could not be less interested in the RNC.”