CINCINNATI — There hasn’t been a single customer inside Downtown’s Avril Bleh Meat Market since March.
But that doesn’t mean the 126-year-old staple hasn’t been taking orders. It just looks a little different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Owner Len Bleh said the deli and meat market’s sales have increased by about 50% since the pandemic.
Bleh said he had been used to serving up to 150 customers per day in his shop. Now, all of the orders are placed over the phone.
“I don’t like doing it the way we’re doing it, but it's a necessity,” Bleh said.
Bleh said he misses catching up with his customers, but sales are up and meat is in stock.
“We haven’t had any issues with anything except pork tenderloin. We can't seem to get those from anybody,” Bleh said.
Ward Bahlman said his Hyde Park bakery initially saw a dip in business, but now he is busy selling bread every day.
“We have increased sales in some senses because of people having restrictions at the other grocery stores,” Bahlman said.
Bahlman said Breadsmith’s new customer base has been keeping the business alive.
At Clifton Market, owner Gurmukh Singh said the store is not as crowded as other large grocery stores, and managers have been encouraging shoppers to get in and out as quickly as possible.
“We are not letting them hang around the checkout lanes too long, and we set up a separate bagging station where they can bag their groceries and get in and out of the store pretty fast,” Singh said.
Singh said the store is thoroughly sanitized throughout the day, and they are working on getting items like toilet paper fully stocked again.
“It's slowly getting back but still not to full levels. The manufacturers are having a hard time keeping up with the demand,” Singh said.
Clifton Market is also offering a free delivery service to elderly customers so they can stay home.