Caterers still bracing for rough season full of canceled, postponed weddings

Posted at 10:28 PM, May 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 11:22:10-04

CINCINNATI — Although caterers and banquet halls in Ohio can begin to reopen in one week, catering services are still braced for the worst as many couples continue to cancel and postpone their weddings.

The restrictions are tight: Receptions can now happen, with up to 300 people, but social distancing has to be enforced, tables must be spaced six feet apart and dancing is completely off limits. In addition to that, not everyone feels comfortable venturing into large crowds yet, even with precautions.

Jeff Thomas, owner of Jeff Thomas Catering, said he doesn't feel comfortable serving food to those large crowds either.

"I don't feel comfortable giving a buffet or food stations," he said. "We've been given no regulations."

He said, although his business has the green light to get back to work on June 1, he isn't sure how it can be possible or safe. He's been funding his business with thousands of dollars of his own, out-of-pocket money each month, and expects he'll have to keep doing so for several more months since most of his summer events have already been canceled.

"And rightly so," he said. "Why would you want to wake up every morning anguishing whether you're going to have your wedding or not?"

Among those couples are Pooja Kumar and Himanshu Hanada. Their June 26 wedding was going to be a traditional Indian celebration in Hamilton, with 300 guests coming in from around the world.

"It was more than a year-long planning, we did multiple trips back home to get clothes and multiple vendors, because it was a three- to four-day event," said Handa.

The pair had already rescheduled their wedding for May of next year by the time they heard Gov. DeWine's announcement on weddings, but they don't regret the postponement; Kumar lost her grandfather to COVID-19 just a few weeks ago.

"Because of his loss, we definitely wouldn't have even wanted to have a wedding to put anybody in that type of situation where you could lose a loved one just to, what? Come celebrate with us?" said Kumar.

In Kentucky, restrictions on large gatherings will lift to allow gatherings of up to 50 people starting in July, but no word has been given on any gatherings larger than that being permitted.