Customers visit Alexander's Market & Deli in Hamilton on Friday, May 15, 2020, the day restaurants in Ohio were allowed to reopen for outdoor dining. ERIC SCHWARTZBERG / STAFF

Restaurants, businesses react to new reality on major reopening day in Butler County

Residents went back to restaurants for outdoor dining, hair salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors and more on on Friday as more businesses were allowed to reopen in Ohio.

Naiyozcsia King, owner of Mz. Jade's Soul Food in Middletown's Pendleton Art Center, said she wasn't able to place tables outside of the building Friday because of windy weather and the chance of rain. 

"I had customers actually come in here today and they were eating over at Governor's Square," King said. 

Customers who did enter the center from Central Avenue on Friday found hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and paper towels at the door.

Mz. Jade's Soul Food in Middletown's Pendleton Art Center began again offering in-person dining following the coronavirus shutdown on Friday, May 15, 2020. ERIC SCHWARTZBERG / STAFF

The business has implemented social distancing measures by creating makeshift barriers to prevent customers from getting within six feet of the counter areas designated for ordering and picking up food. King said she's feeling slightly unsure about dine-in service next Thursday. 

"I'm going to give them a chance to see," she said. "I'm going to keep them separated as much as I can do, but I'm leery about.”

Beyoutiful Salon Barber Spa owner Casey Thompson said her downtown Hamilton salon opened at 9 a.m. today, and some of her employees opted to get to the shop at 8 a.m. to prepare. 

Keeping the place sanitized isn't as big of a challenge as some might think, because the staff, even with its required amount of cleaning "amplified by a thousand," is already used to such measures.

READ MORE: Butler County restaurants open: What they're doing for outdoor dining

Because of social distancing measures, a fraction of the staff is able to be in the salon at one time, meaning her business and others will take longer to get to all clients. 

"We're only allowed a certain capacity, so we pretty much cut our day in half in trying to stretch them out while getting two months worth of clients into that time with less people, less hours, less availability," Thompson said. "It was very, very difficult." 

The inability to double book clients and fill all of Beyoutiful's chairs at one time will require the salon to operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, Thompson said. 

"We're trying to get in double the clients in half the time," she said.

• PHOTOS: Butler County continues to adapt to life during coronavirus pandemic

• PHOTOS: Butler County schools adapt during coronavirus pandemic

• PHOTOS: Hamilton adjusts to coronavirus changes in the outdoors

At Silkworm Tattoo Company on Main Street in Hamilton, owner Kevin Combs, wearing a mask, unlocked the door to talk about how he "awesome" it was to get his shop of 10 years reopened at noon with all five employees.

"We've got a huge, huge following so we're answering phone calls nonstop," Combs said.

Bold Traditions Tattoo on Central Avenue in Middletown opened on Friday, May 15, 2020, after closure caused by the coronavirus. ERIC SCHWARTZBERG / STAFF

Mark Inman, owner of Bold Traditions Tattoo on Central Avenue in Middletown, said it was "pretty exciting" to get back to business Friday, which saw him inking a backlog of customers after being closed for two months. 

Scheduling has been a challenge at the shop because, despite not qualifying for unemployment during their time off, his five employees also have concerns about coming back at this time.

"As far as trying to get the schedules back together ... it's going to be hectic," Inman said. 

For now, though, he's content to settle for a "soft" reopening. 

"We're giving the guys time, also leaving it up to them if they want to come in or not," he said. "I know a lot of people are kind of scared that it's a little too soon but some of us just have to work because of bills and everything else."

Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.