Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Friday, February 12, 2021

After State's Ruling Revoking Its Liquor Permit for Covid Violations, Barley House Argues in Court Ohio's Covid Guidelines Are Illegal

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2021 at 11:12 AM

  • Video still from Nov. 14 cited as evidence by the Ohio Investigative Unit

The Barley House has joined two other restaurant/bars in a court filing arguing that the state of Ohio's coronavirus guidelines for the hospitality industry are illegal.

The Ohio Liquor Control Commission ruled in January that the Barley House's liquor license will be revoked as of March 24th this year due to four violations, three Covid-related and one predating the pandemic for unsanitary conditions.

It was a rare punishment handed down from the commission, which has broad discretion on penalties. Initial violations can result in temporary suspensions and fines, and in some cases, even when the commission issues a revocation order, it will accept a financial penalty in lieu of pulling a permit.

That option was not offered to Barley, which drew the commission's ire after repeated violations of masking and social distancing guidelines, most notably in a viral video that showed a packed nightclub operating as if the pandemic didn't exist.

"The Commission considers all relevant factors, including the nature of the violation, the seriousness of the offense, the facts of the case, the permit holder’s prior record, if any, as well as any other relevant information, including any mitigation evidence presented by the permit holder," Sarah Creedon, the Executive Director of the Ohio Liquor Control Commission, told Scene.

The appeal process runs not through the state but through the courts, which is where the Barley House now finds itself.

The nightclub joined West End Pizza (Carroll County) and Vivid Cocktail Lounge in Maple Heights in a complaint for injunctive relief against Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud in Franklin County arguing that the state's emergency orders governing restaurants and bars have been and are illegal. (See full filing below. Mobile users may have to switch to desktop view.)

Initially filed in Carroll County, perhaps in the interest of finding a more favorable venue for their argument, the suit was moved to Franklin, where all Liquor Control Commission appeals must be heard.

"The various Covid-19 orders issued by Defendants have been issued without advance notice, published guidelines, or transparency," the restaurants allege. "Rather, the Covid-19 orders have been issued at the sole discretion of the Governor and his non-elected advisors."

Arguing that DeWine's orders violate state law, the group contends "despite clear and direct orders of Ohio courts addressing the limited authority of the Department of Health, the Governor and the Department of Health have continued its efforts to destroy Ohio's economy unabated."

It's similar in substance to other lawsuits filed against the state during the pandemic, including a recent one from the Highland Tavern in Akron, which was the first Ohio bar to have its liquor license revoked by the liquor control commission during the pandemic for coronavirus violations.

A judge denied a stay in Highland's appeal and the separate lawsuit remains ongoing. It has remained closed since September.

Barley House owner Bobby George didn't immediately respond to a request for comment by Scene.

TownHall, also owned by George, was part of a lawsuit last year against DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton that asked the courts to eliminate pandemic restrictions and penalties because they were vague and unconstitutional.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 6, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation