HAMILTON, Ohio — A pandemic can’t stop restaurant and bar owners from celebrating the first Hamilton Restaurant Week, even if they’re unsure when they’ll be able to fully open.
Folks at Tano Bistro Hamilton, just one of the 11 restaurants taking part in the citywide celebration, say they’re ready to see customers once again.
General Manager Tyler McCleary says the restaurant, like many others across the Tri-State, has had to get creative during the pandemic to stay in business during the shutdown.
“Now we’re doing a take-and-shake cocktail concept,” he explained. “You take it home, add ice, and make a cocktail in your living room.”
McCleary says the first ever Restaurant Week provides a sense of comfort for the bistro staff in an uncertain time.
“It’s getting back to the fun side of the business. It’s not just grinding out and keep things going, keep the light on. It’s letting our chef get creative. Give the people something cool and unique. It’s been exciting. If we can pull off Restaurant Week, it’s that one step closer to hopefully getting back to normal for all of us,” he said.
He says the past two months since Gov. Mike DeWine ordered dining rooms to close have been tough.
“We’re a family here. I’m excited to get them all here, excited to get them in the run of things.”
And Mary Burdsall, owner of The Drink Tavern, knows all about family.
“It’s a great place,” she said. “Everyone knows everyone. They come here, and everyone here is like family."
Burdsall says The Drink Tavern, which opened Saturday, saw the community turn out in a big way.
“It was amazing, everyone who came out to support us,” she said. “It was heartfelt.”
She says Hamilton’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) has been a life-saver for her sports bar on Hensel Place.
“They can go have one down the street, come here and have one. It helps us all out,” Burdsall said.
This tight-knit restaurant community has been in limbo, unsure when they can fully – and safely – reopen.
“I hope it’s sometime soon,” Burdsall said. “I want everyone to be safe. When we do it, we’ll make sure we do it the right way. I hope it is soon. I can’t wait to see everyone.”
Both are confident that the support of the community will get them through to better days ahead.
“We know we’ll get through this,” McCleary said. “We’re very confident we’ll be okay on the other side. We’ll just see what happens.”
The first Hamilton Restaurant Week runs May 5 through May 8 at 11 of the city’s restaurants: Tano Bistro, The Drink Tavern, Alexander’s Market & Deli, All8Up, The Casual Pint, Fretboard Brewing & Public House, Gina’s Italian Kitchen & Tavern, Hyde’s Restaurant, Lounge 24, Neal’s Famous BBQ and Roll On In.
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