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Patios reopen at Northeast Ohio restaurants, crowds vary by location

Some places were much busier than others.

CLEVELAND — It was the big day that bars and restaurants in Ohio could finally reopen their outdoor seating.

But then the rain came down, and for some places, it was a wash.

Crowds depended on where you went.

East 4th was empty due to places still being closed, while the Warehouse District and The Flats were quiet.

Ohio City was busier, with small groups gathering at Town Hall and Great Lakes Brewery.

Business owners cautioned it is still too early for conclusions.

“There are some people out and it is pouring,” said Shawn Freeman of The Chocolate Bar. “We’ve had an average Friday night, so that means people are coming out.”

At Burntwood Tavern in Rocky River, guest Sam Walters came prepared with a face mask, gloves, and hand sanitizer in his pocket.

He said the economy needs support.

“It’s time,” he said.

At the Harry Buffalo in downtown Cleveland, Stephen Janik had his reasons too.

“It’s almost a question of ‘When can we go back to normal?’ Bars are open, I’m going to be here,” he said.

“Just got to get out of the house, stuck in quarantine for two months you know?” said his friend Brandon Fischer. “It’s needed.”

“At some point, people are going to have to decide for themselves what they want to do and if (Governor) DeWine says it’s safe to dine outside, then we’ll follow him and kind of choose for ourselves,” said their friend Zach Cove.

The sight of people dining out has not been seen for at least two months since the governor closed restaurants for all but takeout.

The amount of social distancing appeared to vary by location Friday. Staff were all seen in masks, while most patrons were not wearing them.

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