At 9 p.m. on Sunday, March 15, restaurants and bars in Ohio were forced to halt service to in-house patrons after an order from the Ohio Department of Health, but establishments are able to continue take-out and delivery service.
Sydney Murray/The Harrison Press
Businesses worry about closures, thankful for loyal customers
Over the past few weeks, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has implemented many new regulations to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
These regulations include shuttering many businesses, including barbershops, tattoo parlors, hair salons, nail salons, senior centers, Bureau of Motor Vehicle locations, gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, bowling alleys, indoor water parks, movie theaters, trampoline parks, and facilities providing adult day care service.
Restaurants and bars are also closed to in-house patrons.
These regulations have forced many small, locally owned businesses to shut down or see reduced business.
On Thursday, March 19, about four days after DeWine announced all restaurants and bars would be closed to in-house patrons, Kim’s Korean Restaurant was still open for carry-out, but co-owner Vester Haire said they had been seeing about 25 percent of normal business. Customers are regulars.
Haire said he would hate to close the doors, and will stay open as long as they can but could see needing to close temporarily if this situation lasts too long.
Right now, he just wishes the best for everyone.
“We care about our customers,” said Haire. “We treat customers like family members.”
About two days after the dining closures, Monk’s Kitchen Owner John Frerick said customers were still coming in, but he had lost about half his business.
He said it helps restaurant isn’t solely based on dine-in orders, and he continues to focus on carry-out and delivery.
As of March 17, he was also still supplying two day cares with hot lunches.
Overall, he said he likes to think they are providing a service that people depend on and, although the situation is ever-changing, he said the good people that continue to patronize the business are important to him.
The Big Greek Cafe Owner Dimitrios Evangelou said business had been OK as of March 19, and he is lucky that most of his business always has been carry-out.
But, along with carry-out, he is offering delivery if he has the employees to do it. He said they will stay open as long as they can, but he also knows that people will have to watch what they spend if they are out of work.
But, he has seen a lot of regular customers continue to come in.
“People have been good to me,” said Evangelou. “Harrison has been good to me.”
The Coffee Peddlar also is still in business and keeping customers caffeinated. They are offering carry-out, curbside service, call ahead orders, and lunches from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Although the shop is closed to in-house patrons, employee Anna Gabbard said, as of March 19, it’s almost like nothing had changed.
She said some customers have been forced into unemployment, but still are patronizing the business, and they have been blown away by the amount of support they have been given.
“That’s how wonderful this community is,” said Gabbard.
She said they are hopeful, staying positive, and have been blessed in a time when they should be scared.
She said they will continue serving coffee as long as the government lets them. They have been helping keep the community positive through a “take a prayer, leave a prayer” basket.
Gabbard also works at Heist + Co., owned by the same family that owns the Peddlar.
Heist only celebrated their grand opening on Dec. 12 of last year, and they are unable to keep their doors open at this time.
But, although Heist is closed, Gabbard said people are still buying gift cards and merchandise.
“Our customers are the actual best,” said Gabbard.
On March 16, DeWine ordered all gyms to shutdown, which led to Harrison Premier Fitness closing its doors.
Owner Mark Mobley said he is a little worried about the situation, and he doesn’t have any income coming in from the business at the moment.
His gym members aren’t getting charged right now, although some did offer to continue their payments, but Mobley wouldn’t allow that.
“We’re like a family there,” he said.
They are sharing workouts online for members, including for those who normally come to SilverSneakers. He said he especially feels bad for his seniors that like to come to the gym because it gets them out and active.
“I do miss all my members,” said Mobley. “That was my daily excitement to go in and see them.”
Worship services cancelled
Local churches have made decisions over the past few weeks to cancel in-person services, but many have continued with other worship options, including the ability to watch services online.
The Catholic Church joined the ranks of cancellations on March 16, when the Catholic Bishops of Ohio suspended all public masses and liturgies through Easter Sunday, and dispensed with the obligation for Catholics in Ohio to attend Sunday mass through Easter.
St. John the Baptist Pastor Jeff Kemper said he has never seen anything like this in his life.
“And while I totally agree with it, I am saddened by it,” he said.
Through the church’s webpage, Kemper said they plan to stream Sunday Mass, and Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday masses from St. John’s.
He said they want to offer this live stream so people can pray and feel in communion with each other.
Harrison continues to move forward with its sister city relationship with Meckesheim, Germany, although Harrison Mayor Bill Neyer said it’s extremely unlikely that he will continue with his scheduled May trip to Germany.
Like Harrison, Meckesheim has also been dealing with issues related to COVID-19.
Meckesheim Mayor Maik Brandt said schools and kindergartens in the state of Baden-Württemberg, where Meckesheim is located, have been closed since March 17, and, as of March 19, many businesses in the state were also shut down.
Brandt said it was expected that the state government would soon impose a curfew to help keep people from congregating in large groups.
Communities in Germany, including Meckesheim, have also been forced to cancel events.
This includes cancellation of Meckesheim’s MeiFescht, which was scheduled to include the signing of a sister city agreement between Harrison and Meckesheim.