XU student bars cope with COVID-19 restrictions

Stones Lanes, Dana Gardens and The Lateral Sports Bar struggle with rules

Newswire Photo by Desmond Fischer
Bars typically populated by Xavier students have noted a significant
decrease in attendance while Ohio guidelines have further stymied

From March Madness to postseason sadness, Xavier students have flocked to Stones Lanes, Dana Gardens and the Lateral Sports Bar to celebrate, mourn and build community. 

Stones, Dana’s and Lateral, as they’re known more familiarly, have all become Xavier student favorites in recent years. The customer bases of these businesses are typically dominated by Xavier students but have dwindled with COVID-19 restrictions.

Stones Lanes general manager Matt Terry noted that the bowling alley has struggled to retain attendance in past months.

“Sales are down thirty-eight percent since we opened June 1,” Terry said. “We try to keep the facilities as clean as we can, adhere to the guidelines put in by the state, that are crippling local businesses.”

Terry noted that the guidelines for small businesses put in place by the Ohio Department of Health have made business increasingly difficult.

“Including 10 p.m. last call (and) limited capacity, it’s hard to make a living off of 50% (capacity),” Terry said of the recent Cincinnati restriction which only allows businesses to sell alcohol until 10 p.m.

“If you take August, for example, where we run through an average of 25 or so student organizations from both X and UC, when those organizations are not allowed to gather because of campus guidelines, it directly affects us,” Terry added.

Other business owners noted that the mandated last call has been particularly strenuous on profits. Trey Hardin, owner of The Lateral Sports bar, says it’s a killer for his business.

“We’re open from seven p.m. till two a.m. With the state’s regulation, we’re open for two or three hours before we have to put out a last call,” Hardin said.

Hardin’s frustrations are less about having to follow the regulations and more about how unfair it is that they’re having to close early when the people coming to their businesses won’t necessarily follow the regulations at all.

“You know that when we call it, the kids are just going to go to another house party right after with no regulations at all,” Hardin complained.

Hardin claimed that Xavier students make up a majority of attendees to those bars surrounding Xavier.

“Our customer base is made up of around fifty to sixty percent of Xavier students. When the school closed in March, we had to shut down shortly after,” he said.

Terry noted that Stones Lanes is “cleaner than (it’s) ever been,” citing cautionary measures that the bowling alley is taking to protect its workers and customers. Some Xavier students, however, have still expressed hesitation regarding attending bars and clubs during the pandemic.

“I feel like Xavier students have a responsibility to keep themselves and their fellow students safe and by extension, that means don’t go to places that have the potential to be hotspots,” Xavier alumnus Ryan Lawson said.

Philosophy, Politics and the Public major Wyatt Schline noted that he believes attending bars right now is irresponsible, given the amount of contact a student would have with others.

“Going to a bar forces you to Uber with someone who is in contact with people all day. Then you show up and are cramped into a tiny dark bar where it isn’t possible to be six inches from someone, let alone six feet.”

“And you can’t expect someone to wear a mask at a place meant for drinking… I don’t think it’s safe,” Schline added.

BJ Hayley, co-owner of Dana Gardens, stated that he believes the onus is on students to make responsible decisions surrounding COVID-19. 

“It’s really up to them. The more that they follow the rules of social distancing, the easier it’s going to be for everybody,” Hayley said of Xavier students.