'Last Call' for the lizards at Winking Lizard as the chain finds homes for the reptiles

The Winking Lizard Tavern in Peninsula.
The Winking Lizard Tavern in Peninsula.

Northeast Ohio's longest lounge lizards are moving on.

Long a fixture in Winking Lizards throughout the region, the iguanas have been quietly exiting from the popular restaurants − including locations in Jackson Township, Fairlawn and Peninsula − for greener pastures.

There have been lizards on display inside of the namesake pub and eatery practically from the regional chain's start some 40 years ago.

The decision to begin finding new homes for lizards was not an easy one, general manager Jim Callam said.

The chain has slowly been finding new homes for the lizards for a couple of years.

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The reasons for getting rid of the mascots were many.

Callam said for one the lizard habitats took up a lot of space inside of the eateries and some of the more recent locations like Columbus did not have the space needed.

Stark County Winking Lizard locales without live lizards

In Stark County, there are two Winking Lizard restaurants, both of which are without a live lizard.

The eatery at 5710 Fulton Drive NW in Jackson Township has not had its lizard, Doby, for quite some time, according to an employee.

"We don't have him anymore," the worker said. "Doby has been gone for at least six months."

The Plain Township restaurant across from Walsh University on Maple Street is not large enough to house a lizard.

"This location was just too small. We never had one," a worker said Thursday.

According to Callam, there was constant care and maintenance needed for the restaurant animals, along with some concerns raised by a local health department about having a lizards in close proximity to the kitchen of one restaurant.

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Some were taken by customers and, in once instance, a restaurant manager took one home.

One lizard was adopted by a reptile shelter in Lake County.

Callam said there are resident lounge lizards left living in Bedford Heights, Avon and Lakewood.

"It is an end of era," he said.

Craig Webb can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com.

This article includes reporting by Massillon Independent staff writer Steven M. Grazier.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Winking Lizard bids adieu to its resident restaurant mascot lizards