Riverside Drive businesses strive to survive road closure

Posted at 4:23 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 18:37:43-05

CINCINNATI — Tuesday marks one month since a section of Riverside Drive closed due to a water main break under the road.

Two local restaurants are feeling the effect of the partial closure, which could last three months, and want people to know they are still ready to serve.

"It's a massive issue for the city, which we are sympathetic on because nobody wants to have to deal with this," said Chris Rose, owner of Sinners and Saints Tavern located at 2062 Riverside Drive.

Rose opened his tavern in October after months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The months after the opening brought a steadily increasing stream of customers as word-of-mouth spread throughout the East End.

"The neighborhood people were very excited to have us come in and be their neighborhood tavern, bar, restaurant," Rose said.

Then, on Jan. 2, a 60-inch water main break collapsed part of Riverside Drive near Lumber Street, which forced the closure of Riverside to through-traffic. Rose said within the first week of the closure, Sinners and Saints saw a 60-percent decline in business even though the tavern is on a stretch of Riverside that is still open from Collins Avenue west to Downtown.

Danny Yant, owner of The Hi-Mark, which is located on the other side of Riverside's closure at 3229 Riverside Drive, said his restaurant experienced the same initial decline in business, especially during happy hours.

"Overall sales are definitely down," Yant said. "Happy hour crowds definitely hit a little later in the evening now."

Yant added he is "glad the city was at least able to add additional signage" to the intersection of Delta and Riverside, letting people know they can still drive down the closed road to The Hi-Mark, Eli's BBQ and Emma Wine Bar.

He said the signage helped The Hi-Mark recover some of its lost customer traffic. Rose said social media posts helped the tavern let people know Sinners and Saints is still open and accessible.

"The drive to find a way around these obstacles in a really positive manner, that's what we're really trying to do," Rose said. "And just to let everyone know, 'Hey, we're still here. We're still working it out.'"

The last update Greater Cincinnati Water Works, the department in charge of repairing the water main, posted on the city website on Jan. 19 about those repairs stated the department ordered parts and on-site preparations for that work was underway.

"It's an unfortunate situation," Yant said. "It's tough, having turned around somewhat steady business through COVID, to turn around and have to deal with this."