STOW – Local businesses are reopening and restaurants are moving tables, building barriers and gathering staff to serve customers in a safe environment.
Businesses are beginning to reopen with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement that May 4 all manufacturing, distribution and construction companies and general business offices were permitted to reopen, as long as they institute certain mandatory procedures to ensure the safety of employees, customers and their families.
Consumer retail and services opened May 12. On May 15 hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and spas can open. Restaurants and bars can open with outside dining May 15 and inside dining on May 21. Physical barriers must be in place and parties separated by six feet with waiting in cars or a designated space with 10 or less people. No buffet or self-serving salad bars will be allowed.
DeWine said the stay-at-home order is in place to signal that the spread of COVID-19 is still a threat. Gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people, although modified for the slow restart.
"This is a step forward, but the stay-at-home order is still in place because it is a signal that things are still dangerous," he said. "This is a marathon and we are in it for the long haul. Best practices are important to get the economy back and keep people safe."
DeWine said employees are recommended to wear face coverings; employees should be assessed to determine if they are healthy; handwashing and social distancing should be practiced; the workplace should be cleaned and sanitized throughout the day, between shifts and at the end of business; and limit capacity to meet social distancing guidelines, such as setting a maximum capacity of 50%t established by fire code’s maximum.
Stow Fire Chief Mark Stone said the number for the capacity of the building is on the certificate of occupancy or can be found by calling the building department. The occupants must also maintain safe social distancing.
Closure continues for massage therapy services, day care centers, senior centers, entertainment and recreation venues, gyms and fitness centers, casinos, fairs and festivals, spectator and recreational sports and campgrounds.
Some of Stow businesses have been open or are opening with the new guidelines.
Owner Heather Ciranna of Corner Cup Coffeehouse at 3019 Graham Road, Unit 1, said they have been completely closed since March 21, and she is doing some community coffee days on the next couple of Saturdays where she gives customers the house dripped-brewed coffee for donations.
"What people need is something of a normal routine and something comforting," Ciranna said.
The Corner Cup Coffeehouse is normally a gathering place for the community, she said.
"We can’t gather right now and that’s why I’m waiting to open May 22 with reduced hours from 7 a.m to 4 p.m. Monday through Sunday barring any changes in mandates or spikes in cases," Ciranna said. "We will be opened Memorial Day, too."
The Stow location has 16 employees who will be returning to work to prep custom-made beverages, food and distribute to customers.
"It’s a big deal," Ciranna said. "There’s a risk for them. I believe employers need to be mindful to protect their employees."
There will be no indoor dining but limited compliant patio seating, she said. They will have curbside service and will be equipped for carryout.
"We won’t have inside seating unless the governor tells me I can," Ciranna said. "I want to be compliant. We need to get back to work but I want to do it safely."
Corner Cup Coffeehouse has a web store to purchase bags of bags of coffee, branded apparel, mugs and tumblers at 50 percent off from now on, she said. Customers can also use a mobile app to order and pay ahead.
Dan Russo, who is co-owner of the Tavern of Stow, 4976 Darrow Road, with his wife, Kerry, said they have not laid off any of its 23 employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, but focused on helping others with needed meals.
When someone called the Stow Community Foundation or Stow-Munroe Falls NICE (Neighborhood Improvement and Community Enrichment) volunteer group, they delivered a meal.
"We’re providing meals for those in need," Russo said. "It was a way to get the community together and accomplish small successes week after week."
Carryout also kept employees busy and beginning May 15, Tavern of Stow was beginning outdoor dining. Russo said he was busy buying plexiglass, which is becoming scarce, to separate customers.
Outdoor seats will be reduced to 20 and different building materials will extend booths and create barriers that will blend into the backdrop for a design element.
"We’re moving some tables and building barriers," Russo said. "We been cleaning throughout this [pandemic] and doing a special sanitizing for the patio opening."
Russo said he is using two different doors and is looking at operational paths and foot traffic at the restaurant.
"We plan to open up indoor dining when we’re allowed, and we’re working on social distancing and what tables to remove," Russo said.
Russo said they are building a temporary foyer for distancing and customer may have to wait in their cars for seating. The restaurant will be able to serve about 100.
Even though the industry is anticipating 20% of restaurants won’t reopen and Tavern of Stow has lost revenue, Russo said his staff has been its biggest inspiration.
"We absolutely will get through this as an industry," Russo said. "But think long term for the next 12 months, and it will get better. Love your staff because they are the people who will get you through this."
Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at email@example.com