Loveland community has rallied around carryout options keeping employees working while owners think of ways to serve the community safe & healthy meals during COVID-19 closures
By Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH – Restaurant owners in Loveland are adjusting on the fly as they settle into their second week of COVID-19 closures and service restrictions.
Paxton’s Grill with some of the ownership group (File Photo)
“We’re learning as we go,” said Ralph Dunnigan, Paxton’s ownership partner. “We definitely didn’t think the parish fish fry’s shutting down would affect anything, but it sure has. We were busy as heck Friday night.”
Paxton’s, Ramsey’s, The Works, LaRosa’s and most other Loveland area restaurants found themselves scrambling to stay open, keep employees working, and serve customers as the order to close in-person dining came a week ago. Loveland City officials offered to help, creating some designated parking spaces for curbside delivery options. Dunnigan at Paxton’s, and Scott Gordon, The Works Pizza Oven Restaurant owner are both grateful for seeing a lot of curbside business by the end of the first week.
“The Loveland community has certainly rallied around getting carryout giving us enough business to keep our employees working,” said Gordon. “It’s about half what normal volume is, but it’s all we can handle; that whole half is in three hours without all the people sitting around, hanging out and having a full meal. The business model has just changed for now.”
The Works is open for curbside pick-up, carryout, and delivery with online ordering options (Photo Chuck Gibson)
Gordon’s wife Jamie helped create a temporary online ordering set up. The change leaves Scott home at the end of the day considering what went wrong, what could go wrong, and how they fix it. He is trying to figure it all out. He knows Paxton’s and Ramsey’s are going through the same things because they are still getting together, trying to stop, slow things down and ask if they’re doing the right things. At the end of the day, it is all they can do. They are all scrambling to get things done with a skeleton crew juggling added duties of, not just disinfecting at night and in the morning, but continuously cleaning every surface that gets touched as the day goes on.
“We’re making it work. A lot of people are working. We’ll take it,” Dunnigan said. “We don’t want to get shut down. We’re doing a lot of curbside. The city has been kind enough to work with us to assign some parking spots just for pick-up.”
It is not just curbside, Gordon and one other Works employee is using his own car for customer delivery.
That requires constant cleaning of the car too. They’re using the same cleaner the Loveland Police Department uses – “It kills the aids virus,” Gordon said. The Hamilton County Health Department has been around too.
“The Hamilton County Health Department has been amazing through all this,” Gordon said. “Not just providing online information, they’ve been in here twice; just making sure we’re doing what needs to be done, but also giving us ideas which is what we all want.”
Loveland LaRosa’s has designated parking spots for curbside pick up too (Photo Chuck Gibson)
They’ve become the “ultimate cleaners and disinfectors” for customer and self-protection in all areas of the workplace. The business model has now become focused on keeping employees working while not working them to death with all the extra duties everyone has taken on to ensure safe and healthy conditions for all.
“As long as we can get product, have employees coming to work, practicing safe food handling, we’ll be fine,” said Paxton’s Dunnigan.
The City of Loveland helped out designating parking spots as numbered curbside pick up locations Photo Chuck Gibson)
Everyone has been dealing with a lot of surprises and challenges during the first days of this COVID-19 emergency response in Ohio and here at home in Loveland. Some of the challenges have resulted in pleasant surprises for the business owners. The support of the community is the best response –even if not really a surprise – from a community which recently showed its ability to step-up when tragedy strikes without warning like the Historic Downtown fire. Right now Scott Gordon points to the response of his employees.
“Employees are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “They haven’t skipped a beat taking care of each other and everybody else coming together to do all the little extra things. We’re all in this together. “
City designated pick up spots in front of The Works (Photo Chuck Gibson)
Gordon compared them to his time in the U.S. Marine Corps where tough tasks were met with a let’s get it done response. He says that’s the mode his employees are in right now. It has been confirmation of what he already thought about his crew at The Works. He counts his biggest challenge as taking care of his people, not pushing them too hard which could result in mistakes, or even overworked, not well rested, staff becoming more vulnerable to illness and the virus.
“I imagine everybody is experiencing the same thing; staff pitching in, doing what it takes, rallying around one another,” Gordon concluded. “This is our time.”
Editor’s note: Please continue to support Loveland local restaurants and businesses: check their websites and social media pages for the latest on service options and hours of operation.