Hudson & Essex

Hudson & Essex in downtown Mansfield is one of the local restaurants dealing with uncertainties due to a potential second state shutdown order due to COVID-19. 

MANSFIELD ─ Concerned and disappointed is how owners of bars, restaurants and fitness centers reacted Thursday to a possible second COVID-19 shutdown order.

On Wednesday evening, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced revised mask orders and a limit on the gathering of 10 or more people. He also warned the state would close restaurants, bars and fitness centers if coronavirus cases keep increasing, a decision that could be announced next week.

“Obviously, I understand the need for it, if things don't get better. But it makes me nervous,”  said Susan Vander Maas, owner of Doc’s Deli.

It would be difficult for the business to survive if there is no revenue. Her five employees would have to file for unemployment benefits. She also said she cannot do any additional preparation until she knows what' s going to happen.

There would be food in stock, Vander Maas said, because she cannot let her inventory go down, thinking the business is going to close. If the governor really shuts them down, she and her staff would need to figure out what to do with the food. She said she probably would donate it.   

Vander Maas said she is hoping for the best.

Ben Hoggard, general manager and executive chef of Hudson & Essex, shares that concern. The restaurant would have meat, seafood and other perishable products on-site that will go bad if it's forced to close.

“Also, how do I predict the next week? Are people going to be scared and stay home? Or are people going to say ‘this is my last chance to go out’? And all of a sudden, everybody comes out. So, do I buy a lot of food? Or do I not buy a lot of food?” Hoggard said of the uncertainty.

He said since reopening, bars and restaurants have been taking extra care to keep customers safe. They make sure people maintain social distance and masks. And now, there is the governor’s threat.

“Unfortunately, now restaurants and bars and businesses that have been trying their best to comply with the governor's orders are going to pay the price for complying with the governor's orders,” he said.

Duncan Macfarlane of The Phoenix Brewing Company said he would need to think about the production schedules because they will still produce and distribute beer even there is a second shutdown.

“Do we continue to make as much beer that we were planning on making? There's just a ton of things that we would have to consider,” he said.

He also anticipates the state would give business owners some time to prepare.

Chris Hershberger, owner of Black Belt Pro Fitness, said it was scary and disappointing to hear what the governor had said. With a pandemic going on, it has been challenging to keep the business afloat.    

However, he is not extremely worried about what he has to do if the business needs to close to the public. He said they were training athletes and clients all over the Midwest online back in March, when the state issued the first shutdown.

To respond to the massive demand for virtual training, Hershberger said they produced hundreds of hours of online content in the past few months.

As part of the community, Hershberger said it is important to figure out what people can do collectively to make the situation get better. With the case numbers spiking, he believes there is another “wave” that needs to be taken seriously.   

Sara Baker, director of development and marketing for the Mansfield YMCA, said as of right now, they are just proceeding with business as usual, including complying with the mask mandate.

“We have plans in place for closures should they take place. However, we really aren't going to heighten any sort of fear within our members, or our staff or our guests until that order does come from the governor,” she said.

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