The first two customers arrived on the patio at The Works nearly 30 minutes after outdoor dining opened in Loveland Friday, May 1, – but everyone was smiling

By Chuck Gibson

LOVELAND, OH (May 15, 2020) – The Works restaurant outdoor patio was ready, owner Scott Gordon was ready, and server Tara Frambes was ready to welcome customers back with in-person service at 11 a.m. Friday, May 15.

The Works server Tara Frambes takes the order of Nick and Connie Arbino – 1st outdoor dining customers Friday, May 15 (Chuck Gibson) 

They had to wait just a bit before the first customers pulled into the parking lot and confirmed the patio dining was open. Just a minute later, Scott Gordon welcomed an enthusiastic Connie & Nick Arbino to the patio.

“You guys are our first,” said Gordon as he welcome the couple with a smile.

They exchanged greetings at the gate – from a safe social distance of course – before heading over to a table for two by the outer patio wall.

 “We’re so excited,” said Connie. “As long as it’s safe, it’s a good thing. It depends on how it affects everybody. If it spikes again, things are going to change.”

Both she and her husband expressed excitement at returning to a favorite dining spot, but remain aware of the importance of staying safe. All of the proper safe distancing guidelines were in practice. The server, Tara Frambes, was wearing her mask as she helped seat the Arbino’s and began serving her first in-person customers since the order for Ohio restaurants to close came on March 15 – two months ago. Nick Arbino felt comfortable in the outdoor environment.

“We’re outside,” he said. “It can’t not be safe, right?”

We all agreed, observing safe-distancing guidelines will help keep it safe. The Arbino’s came a fair distance to dine on the patio at The Works. They drove in from Clarksville, Ohio near Wilmington so Nick could pick up some new running shoes from JackRabbit. The Works remains a favorite from their days living here in Loveland.

 “Loveland is a great community,” Connie said.

Tara Frambes, server, The Works, wearing mask with smiling eyes (Chuck Gibson) 

They greeted Tara with smiles as she returned to the table to get their order. It meant a lot to her to finally greet and talk with customers again.

“It’s very weird,” said Frambes. “I was excited because it gives you that personal interaction we had taken away from us. I’m excited to see our regulars back in here and fill the place up again. Come to The Works, we’ll be open.”

Not every Downtown Loveland restaurant is opening for the outdoor dining. Both Ramsey’s Trailside and Paxton’s Grill chose to continue with carry-out and curb service only until inside dining is open at the end of next week.

Ramsey’s Trailside will continue carry-out and crub service only until opening indoor next week. (Chuck Gibson)

Ramsey’s Trailside was still active with the walk-up window and staff will be in full force Monday as they make final preparations to open inside dining.  Just next door Chad Powers Narrow Path Brewing was ready to greet outdoor guests with some new picnic tables lined up with safe distancing in between.

“Yes, we’re doing outdoor dining,” said Powers. “We built a bunch of extra new picnic tables. That brings our picnic table total up to 12. We have them adequately social-distanced.”

Powers says they’re trying to create a beer-garden feel. At the same time, the picnic tables help create some natural pockets to congregate safely in isolated groups. They used to have more chairs out there.

New picnic tables will greet outdoor guests at Narrow Path Brewing (Chuck Gibson) 

“We will have a few chairs out here, but they’ll be clustered around fire pits,” Powers explained. “We’ll ask people to not move those around.”

Narrow Path Brewery has been busier than ever during the shutdown brewing and reviewing their craft beer list. Powers says they narrowed the tap list – no pun intended – from around 30, to 16 beers they’ll have available.  Brewer Bob Isburgh was busy inside brewing beer, trying to keep up production and getting ready to serve customers in-person again.

Narrow Path Brewing Brewer Bob Isburgh with owner Chad Powers on Friday, May 15, (Chuck Gibson)

“We’re brewing right now,” said Powers. “We’ve been brewing like crazy the last two days. We want to make it comfortable for guests, any worker interfacing directly with a guest, will have a mask on. We’ll have sanitizer stations.”

That midday walk around Downtown Loveland was pretty quiet as gray skies and the threat of rain might have kept a few people away from the outdoor dining. It didn’t scare off Liesel Fausnaugh and her brother-in-law Brian Ruff who headed up to a rooftop patio at Bishop’s Quarter for a noontime meal. We’ll see what Friday evening brings. For now, the outdoor dining is officially underway again in Historic Downtown Loveland, Ohio.