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We're (still) Open: WCPO continues to spotlight businesses struggling in pandemic

outdoor bar restaurant seating
Posted at 5:14 AM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 05:14:57-05

It’s hard to believe it has been nearly a year since the coronavirus pandemic changed all of our lives and brought normal life to a halt.

That initial shutdown of nearly all in-person gatherings and most businesses was an incredibly dark time for all of us -- none more so than local businesses.

That’s why last March we launched We’re Open. The initiative was designed to spotlight local businesses and how you could support them.

At the time, the only way to patronize our local restaurants was by ordering food to go, so we launched Takeout Tuesday.

A lot has changed since last spring, but one thing hasn’t. Our local businesses are still struggling.

Even though indoor dining resumed and other rules relaxed to allow commerce to get back rolling, local businesses are still battling for survival.

So since last March, we have continued to tell stories about restaurants and other businesses finding ways to stay open during the pandemic.

Entertainment reporter Brian Mains and reporter Whitney Miller remain focused on this topic, along with other staff members.

Some of my favorite stories under the We’re Open initiative in the last year include:

  • Brian did a story about how breweries were changing their business models and adding tactics like delivery to keep on brewing.
  • Whitney told us about a local carnival business selling carnival food like a food truck because the annual carnival season didn’t really happen.
  • Larry Seward looked at how dry cleaning businesses were adjusting in a time when people aren’t wearing dress clothes as much.
  • Whitney profiled 92-year-old Olga Larkin, who still works eight hours a day making fried chicken at Ron’s Roost in Green Township.

The stories may have changed a little, but their importance remains.

Back in March, I wrote: “If we love this region’s food scene, we have to be willing to fight for it.”

That’s still true today and it applies to more than just the food scene. Local businesses are what make Cincinnati special.

If we value those local businesses, we need to support them in their hour of need.

For our part, we will continue to spotlight these businesses and how they are adjusting to these difficult times.

If you are a small business owner or know of a small business that is worth noting, you can fill out this form.

Mike Canan is the Senior Director of Local Media Content at WCPO 9. Contact him at mike.canan@wcpo.com. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram at @Mike_Canan.