Oxford helping businesses with Red Brick Fridays: How to go

Last month, Oxford held its first Red Brick Fridays event of the year to help local businesses and restaurants hit hard by the pandemic.

It went so well that the second Red Brick Friday will take place today, with a third event on Aug. 28. Uptown streets will once again be closed so patrons leery of COVID-19 can shop and eat safely.

“We were thinking about how to restart the restaurant community, and we looked at what other communities were doing,” said Jessica Greene, Assistant City Manager of Economic Development at Enjoy Oxford, a marketing organization for Oxford.

“We saw some places were shutting down streets and having people shop and eat on the streets and sidewalks. We have two major roads go right through the middle of town, so we couldn’t do that all the time, but we figured we could it occasionally.”

Greene said some, but not all, restaurants offered carry-out options during the shutdown. Even when the economy reopened, much business was lost due to the Miami student population being sent home. Some businesses have yet to reopen. Thus far, the only businesses that have shut down for good have been a nail salon and a milk tea location.

All the signature Oxford restaurants will be open for business on Red Brick Friday, including Bagel & Deli, Skippers, Fiesta Charra, Bodega, and Mac & Joe’s. Both the city and individual businesses are being proactive about masks and social distancing. Oxford passed a mask ordinance before Gov. DeWine did, though, like the state law, the Oxford law is designed to be as non-confrontational as possible.

“People think it’s okay to not wear a mask when they’re outside,” she said. “We want people to wear masks as long as they’re moving around, and when they’re eating, to sit down someplace. We have a signage campaign. We have a slogan that goes, ‘Please wear a mask, don’t make us ask.’ A Facebook campaign that encourages people to wear a mask in their profile pictures. People who can’t wear masks for medical reasons are exempt, but otherwise we need people to wear one unless they can prove they’re COVID-19 negative. We can give a $100 fine to people who refuse, but we’re really trying to work on the honor system, that we’re all in this together.”

More and more Oxford businesses will be using mobile pay for transactions. Shops may have racks outside, but patrons can also go inside. Doors will be propped open, so multiple people won’t be touching the same handles. Some places tailor their safety measures according to their individual situations, such as the sports bar, Mac & Joe’s.

“It’s such a tiny place that they have people call out before they come in,” Greene said. “Say how many they have, whether they’re wearing masks, and depending on what they say and how many people are already in there, they’ll let them know if they have a table available.”

As for the future, Miami University is planning on fully re-opening. Greene said the off-campus students have already signed their leases. Everyone wants to return to normalcy, but Greene noted one thing that might have changed permanently.

“Paying for something with my Apple watch,” she said. “Before the pandemic, I never had the motivation to figure out how to do that.”

How to Go

What: Red Brick Friday

Where: Uptown Oxford Historic District, 14 West Park Place, Oxford

When: Today, 5-9 p.m.

Admission: Free

More Info: www.enjoyoxford.org

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