The Winking Lizard Tavern is one of our favorite local restaurants; the regional chain is known for its food and expansive beer menu, but also the resident lizards that hang out in a habitat while you eat (they're obviously a big hit with the kids, too).
Or, at least, they used to, as the Winking Lizard is planning to no longer house lizards in its restaurants, a staple since the company's inception 40 years ago. I knew something was up when the lizard habitat was recently closed off at the Mayfield location...
Anyway, the main reason for the move is that the lizard habitats were simply taking up too much room in the restaurants, room that could be taken up by more paying customers. But it was also a ton of work cleaning and maintaining the habitats, with one local health department also raising concerns about one habitat being so close to the kitchen.
The Winking Lizard has essentially determined it's no longer worth the headache, and while it's the end of an era, it appears the lizards are finding good new homes. Some have been adopted by customers, and another has been taken by a restaurant manager; a Lake County reptile shelter even adopted one.
It has also been reported that Reggie, the seven-year-old green iguana who had been living at the Peninsula location, has found a new home at the African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton.
While the lizards - not to be confused with the Loveland Lizards, of course - were a fun quirk to the Winking Lizard chain, it's for the best for them to move on from the gimmick. And at the end of the day, whatever keeps the Winking Lizard going for another 40 years is fine by me. You just can't beat the vibes of that place.
(Image courtesy of Winking Lizard)