It won’t be pretty: “You know when I drink alone, I prefer to be by myself.”


George Thorogood was right on the money, and we’re all going to be given the chance to prove it very soon.

As of Sunday evening, a COVID-19 cordon was descending on those of us in the on-premise food and drink business. Illinois and Ohio already have shut down restaurants and bars, with exceptions for carry-out and delivery (just no congregating inside or lines outside).

So did Massachusetts and California. So has much of Europe.

Several Louisville bars already have announced voluntary shutdowns, and just now I was reading a half-dozen social media posts urging Mayor Greg Fischer to stop waiting for the governor and make the closings in Louisville mandatory.

The duration elsewhere generally is being being phrased as two or three weeks, but everyone would be better off reading these words as “indefinitely,” because that’s what is meant, even if it isn’t being said aloud.

Obviously I’m self-interested, given employment at Pints&union, but this post isn’t to be construed as disagreement. Personally I regard the temporary closings as inevitable given the realities of COVID-19. Public health trumps draft beer and tacos.

It simply is, and the realization that there’ll be more than a few small, local independent businesses that won’t be able to resume operations after it’s over is bittersweet, depressing and an enticement to fight the good fight, all at once. 

It’s all moving way too fast to capture even a sliver of it in words.

However, allow me to offer this: As the chain of command goes in Indiana, I’d expect the shutdown orders to come from Governor Eric Holcomb, perhaps through the state department of health and the Alcohol & Tobacco Commission (for alcohol license holders). I say this because Caesar’s was put on a two-week furlough by the state gaming commission.

Jeff Gahan will have nothing to do with any of this, whether by personal inclination (he’s been in the bunker for eight years) or personal authority. Insofar as the Floyd County Health Department is concerned, simply allow me to remind those of you who are just tuning in that its chieftain Dr. Thomas Harris won’t screw around. This I learned seven years ago.

In fact, judging from his behavior in 2013 and 2014, when I spent a year of my business life contesting his out-of-nowhere decision to unilaterally demand temporary food service permits of temporary beer event pourers (he was proven wrong by the Indiana Supreme Court, by the way, and I consider beating him the greatest achievement of my entire career), Dr. Tom won’t hesitate to act even if no orders are forthcoming from Indianapolis.

He’s that sure of himself, and that imperious. If he thinks it’s the right thing to do, he’ll start padlocking doors tomorrow morning.

In this instance, he also may be right in doing so, although it grieves me to concede it. 

In any event there’ll be a immense amount of pressure placed on the governor to restrict or suspend restaurant and bar service. I predict it will come tonight or tomorrow, because of St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday; also, it would be two weeks until month’s end at this point, thus offering a convenient time frame for action.

At least if we know tomorrow, we won’t be stuck with perishables and beverages we can’t sell.

How will small businesses survive this?

I have no idea. It’s unexplored territory, and if ever the phrase “taking it day by day” applies, it is right now.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.


  1. I thought Illinois was going to 50% capacity and separation in bars and restaurants,not closing? But, it might be the best, as you said. Good luck to all.