‘We are flat out of money’: Coronavirus challenges close Butler County bar, coffee shop

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Stunning aerial view of downtown Hamilton

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Two Butler County businesses are closing due to the impact of the coronavirus.

Learning Through Play Cafe, a coffee shop and children’s play area based in West Chester, is closing today and A Game Knight, a Hamilton bar/restaurant and gaming business, closed Sunday night.

D.J. Harper, who has owned A Game Knight, 345 N. Third St., since November 2019, said his businesses hasn’t been profitable since March when Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all bars and restaurants to close and only offer carry-out.

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“Ever since then,” he said, “it has been terrible.”

Then DeWine recently announced bars must stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m., the busiest time at A Game Knight, Harper said.

D.J. Harper, owner of A Game Knight, 345 N. 3rd St., in Hamilton's German Village, said he closed the bar/restaurant and gaming facility Sunday night because of shrinking business due to the coronavirus. FILE PHOTO
D.J. Harper, owner of A Game Knight, 345 N. 3rd St., in Hamilton's German Village, said he closed the bar/restaurant and gaming facility Sunday night because of shrinking business due to the coronavirus. FILE PHOTO

He called his gaming customers “a late crowd” and said 75 percent of his business occurs after 10 p.m. Since he doesn’t know when the governor’s mandate will end and if his business will turn profitable, Harper said he was forced to close.

“We are flat out of money,” the 33-year-old said. “We are done. We are now losing the most profitable hours of every day, in a business that has always ran on slim margins, in a time when our customers are already being told not to leave their homes unless necessary. Quite simply, we’re beaten. Every light of hope we’ve shined down this dark tunnel has been extinguished as our government continues to fail to offer the support it promised at the onset of this pandemic.”

Harper, though, said to keep A Game Knight open would require “a lot of luck” and people willing to invest in the business that’s in the red. Harper said he may file for bankruptcy.

“It is what it is,” he said.

On its Facebook page, the owner of Learning Through Play Cafe wrote: “It is with a very heavy heart that we let you know we are closing our doors. We have tried everything we can think of to hang in there through this pandemic but unfortunately, our business thrives on coffee sales and kids and we are not getting much of either.”

The business is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today for semi private play, according to Facebook. Customers are encouraged to redeem any gift cards for coffee or merchandise today.