CLEVELAND — Stefan Was, an Ohio City resident with no hospitality experience, opened Porco Lounge and Tiki Room in a location that many said was cursed. The undeniable success of the business throughout the past eight years is proof that Was had a very clear vision of what he wanted to build and how people would react. But if you try to praise the owner for his foresight, he likely will pass that credit off to his staff.
The dreamy destination bar, a short distance from Cleveland's West Side Market, has been closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020. Was says that he did not bother even attempting to reopen because he felt it would be impossible to provide guests with the same experience and level of service while maintaining a safe environment for the staff.
Now, however, he is poised to do so thanks to lower COVID-19 numbers, higher vaccination rates and a generally positive outlook for the foreseeable future. The plan is to reopen around the middle of May.
“Our guiding light has always been the numbers,” Was says. “Cases are down and vaccinations are up. We’re looking forward to the good weather and taking advantage of that.”
Was admits that the past year has been extremely challenging, made manageable by the fact that he owns the property. Still, he says there was -- and is -- much to do to keep it in shape and ready for opening day. The owner likens the event to opening a bar for the first time with all the cleaning, maintenance, repairs, restocking and filling any gaps in staff.
When Porco does reopen, there will be some key differences. For one, reservations will be strongly recommended because the number of seats has been reduced as to maintain a safe environment. Guests should not expect to stroll up on a weekend night and grab a seat, Was warns.
Still, after 2020, a little inconvenience or planning ahead is a small price to pay for delicious elixirs like Mai Tais, Zombies and Painkillers. Look for a re-opening date between mid-May and Memorial Day weekend.
You can re-visit the bar online before stopping back in. Here is their website.