Friday, September 28, 2001

Curfew closings costly for businesses

By Jeff McKinney
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        For the second time in 5 1/2 months, businesses across Cincinnati were forced to close because of a curfew. Most of the owners weren't happy about it.

        The reaction came Thursday when Mayor Charlie Luken ordered a curfew after disturbances Wednesday night — hours after a white Cincinnati police officer was found not guilty in the April shooting death of an unarmed black 19-year-old man.

        The curfew, imposed in part to stop downtown and Over-the-Rhine businesses from being vandalized, hit many Queen City entrepreneurs hard.

        Some businesses shut down Thursday before the curfew took effect, angry that the city's racial problems had again cost them money.

        Marcus Adiutori, co-owner of Carol's on Main restaurant, questioned why a curfew was imposed instead of the city providing a strong police presence. He estimated Thursday's curfew alone would cost Carol's $3,000. He added that the closing was hard on employees.

        Mr. Adiutori said Carol's, 825 Main St., makes 70 percent of its income Thursday through Saturday. He said Carol's is still recovering from a $20,000 loss during the April riots.

        And while many entrepreneurs say they understood why the city imposed the curfew, they're frustrated for not being compensated this time — as they were in April — for lost business.

        Jeff Ruby, owner of a restaurant that bears his name at Seventh and Walnut, estimated that location has lost $250,000because of the April riots. He canceled a show Thursday for the musical group The Bluebirds and had no reservations after 8 p.m.

        “On top of the slow business and economic conditions nationally, (many businesses) in Cincinnati are getting hit with a triple whammy because of the social and racial climate here.”

        The door was shut at 10 p.m. at Camp Washington Chili.

        Owner John Johnson described the curfew as “terrible,” saying 70 percent of his business Thursdays through Saturdays comes from hospital and late-shift workers. Camp Washington Chili is open 24 hours except on Sundays.

        In Over-the-Rhine, the Diner on Sycamore shut its doors at 3 p.m.

        General manager Lisa Cilensek said it was pointless to remain open because many Cincinnati residents think there is a problem with safety in the surrounding neighborhood.

        One Clifton Heights bar owner said he wouldn't close, but would lock customers in his establishment all night.

        William J. “Buzzy” Gaz, owner of Uncle Woody's Tavern & Eatery, said his peak business hours are 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

        He also believes the social unrest mainly applies to downtown and Over-the-Rhine, not the city's 50 other neighborhoods.

        The mayor “is nuts to close down the city,” said Mr. Gaz, who ran for City Council as a Republican in 1997. “I'm not going to support it this time because I don't believe it's right.”

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