CINCINNATI — Andrew Schlanser put down a deposit on his first restaurant, Good Plates Eatery, on March 11. Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the closure of all Ohio bars and restaurants four days later.
Spring seemed to last forever. The restaurant’s opening didn’t happen until August. But Schlanser said he’s hopeful for his McMillan Street business — and for the Cifton small business community at large — despite the pandemic and the approaching winter.
“It’s definitely been interesting, opening at this point,” he said Friday night. “We don’t have the foot traffic that we thought we would.”
Much of that foot traffic was supposed to come from University of Cincinnati football games and FC Cincinnati matches, neither of which allowed in-person spectators during the fall.
Instead, the 20-year restaurant industry veteran relies on a steady lunch crowd and people who order deliveries. Schlanser is grateful for a city ordinance limiting the cut of each order that delivery services can collect, and he’s hopeful that getting a liquor license will bring in even more customers.
The pandemic pinch of spring and summer hit more established Clifton-area businesses, too.
Nearby DuBois Book Store on Calhoun Street has enjoyed the love of local customers since the 1950s, but front desk manager Andrew Lusher said the multi-month shutdown still hurt.
“Not having students around in the summer for freshman orientation made things a lot different,” he said.
But UC families have returned to the store, and the community’s long-lasting affection for DuBois is helping keep it afloat.
“A lot of families come in,” Lusher said. “We’re already starting to see people that say they’re Christmas shopping.”
Back at Good Plates, Schlanser said he’s keeping the faith. He plans for his restaurant to be on McMillan for seasons to come and to enjoy the sports-related foot traffic when it finally returns to the area.
For now, hope is the only option.
“It’s my livelihood,” he said. “Me and my wife are the owners. We have twin toddlers at home, so I mean, I’m here. It’s everything to us right now.”