MANSFIELD -- After Governor Mike DeWine ordered all restaurants and bars to close their dining rooms, many local entrepreneurs worried about the impact it would have on their respective businesses.
“It was terrifying,” said Susan Vander Maas, owner and manager of Doc’s Deli. “A small business may not have the resources available to pay employees for long periods of time without actually having any income.
“It’s super important that people seek out the local businesses and try to support them as much as possible.”
While going out to eat is no longer an option, residents can still place pick-up or delivery orders at many of their favorite eateries, coffee shops, bars and wineries.
“Many restaurants are offering take-out or delivery, and we encourage you to consider that as an option for your meals,” said Jodie Perry, president and CEO of the Richland Area Chamber. “Also, as you are able … don’t forget to leave a tip when you pick up your takeout as that will help the servers during this time of reduced income.”
Area restaurants and bars are informing the public of what services are still available on their websites and social media. Some are posting their menus and hours on group Facebook pages like E-Mansfield and Mansfield Community Delivery/Carry-Out.
Korinna Fraizer Goettel, who runs the Entrepreneur's Kitchen, started Mansfield Community Delivery/Carry-Out shortly after the governor’s announcement on Saturday. It garnered more than 1,000 likes in two days.
“The service industry is what makes America run -- small businesses, the food industry, they’re very important to all of our lives,” Goettel said. “I thought if I could do anything to help their world a little tiny bit, that I wanted to.”
“It’s nice that the community is coming together and taking care of each other,” said Carmone Macfarlane, co-owner of the Phoenix. “I think that it reinforces just how amazing the Mansfield community is and how connected everyone is.”
Some restaurants are also getting creative and expanding their services. The Happy Grape Winery Bar & Bistro is now offering curbside pickup and plans to begin delivery on March 17.
“It's been fun through the stress to be creative and strategize. Our team of people that we work with are all kind of coming together and trying to find the positives,” said Pam Smith, who owns The Happy Grape with her husband, Paul.
The Phoenix Brewing Company is one of multiple breweries across the state starting home deliveries with its very own truck. The Phoenix will continue offering pick-up hours and food trucks will still be parked outside.
Restaurant owners’ willingness to adapt and continue serving the public is crucial, not only to the survival of the business, but the well-being of its workers.
"That's my biggest worry,” Smith said. “The people that work for us, we love and care for them and we want them to be with us when this is over. And so that means being creative and finding ways for them to get hours in.”
“By having our to-go sales and having our delivery option, we’re keeping our employees employed,” she said.
Restaurants make up a significant portion of the local economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 4,910 people employed by the food service industry in Richland County in May 2018.
“The industry certainly employs far above the economy average of people,” said Barrett Thomas, director of economic development for the Richland Area Chamber. “These are not all full-time positions, but it’s a testimony to how far the industry reaches into so many people’s lives, and provides at least partial solutions to family income needs.”