Butler County restaurants, bars reacting to indoor service shutdown

Butler County restaurants and bars are working to adjust to a new way of doing business today after Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton’s order Sunday to temporarily close Ohio’s restaurants and bars to indoor service.

In reaction to the statewide measure, Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith on Sunday directed crews to make it a top priority to establish food-pick-up parking in the downtown and Main Street areas.

“I want to provide 3 dedicated pickup parking spots” for Almond Sisters Bakery, True West Coffee, All 8 Up, Casual Pint, Tano Bistro, Fretboard Brewing & Public House, Rise & Shine, Neal’s Famous BBQ, Alexander’s Market & Deli and High Street Café, as well as others that may ask, he said.

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“If we cannot produce/install signs fast enough, simply use orange parking cones with temporary signage indicating ‘Food Pickup Parking Only,’” Smith said. “Our small businesses are depending on us to help them survive these difficult times. Please work with a sense of urgency.”

City Director of Engineering Rich Engle indicated it would be done.

For some, the loss of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is a double hit. For years, the motto at Fricker’s has been: “As March Madness goes, so goes the year.”

Now that the tournament has been cancelled, Jim Manley, marketing manager at Fricker’s, said: “We hope that’s wrong.” Then came Sunday’s order about closures.

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“That was a gut shot for us,” Manley said. “We are very concerned. We don’t want anyone, our customers and our employees, to get injured, but this is how we earn a living.”

Fricker’s employs 800 to 1,200 people and has locations throughout the region, including restaurants in Middletown and West Chester in Butler County and Mason in Warren County. The restaurants are open from 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Manley said some of the wait staff may be used in the kitchen because he expects those restaurants to be “overrun” with carry-out orders. He said Fricker’s uses Door Dash as its priority delivery service.

In West Chester Twp, upscale restaurant Jag’s Steak & Seafood posted that it will transition to curbside pick-up only starting Tuesday.

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“We are taking this step after careful evaluation of information provided by local health and government agencies about the evolving Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation,” the restaurant said via its Facebook page. “Our first priority is to respect the health and safety of our staff, guests and community.”

Guests can call in their same-day orders from a special curbside menu between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 513-860-5353. Same-day curbside pickups will be available from noon to 7 p.m. and can be fulfilled by driving through a valet station, where a member of the restaurant’s staff will be waiting to bring an order to a customer.

The Ohio Business Roundtable supports Acton’s order to close restaurants and bars to indoor service, according to Pat Tiberi, its president & CEO.

“We recognize the magnitude and impact of this measure on one of Ohio’s key industries, but believe it is necessary to slow the spread of the virus to our most vulnerable citizens,” Tiberi said. “We appreciate the DeWine/Husted Administration’s coordination with leaders of Ohio’s restaurant industry and applaud Governor DeWine’s leadership in this unprecedented public health crisis. As we have seen in other parts of the world, it is critical to take these actions before the virus can spread further.”

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