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WCPO9's 'We're Open Cincinnati' initiative is designed to help spotlight restaurants, businesses

Posted: 4:55 AM, Mar 24, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-24 20:53:32-04
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My wife and I were in the kitchen. We were debating whether to make dinner later that night or order takeout.

My 10-year-old son overheard our conversation and piped in from the living room: “We have to get takeout. There are just too many restaurants we want to save.”

And there we are.

That’s the reality we are all living in these days.

The coronavirus has caused restrictions that means restaurants are only open for takeout. Across the region, that has meant local restaurants are laying off staff, adjusting their business plans and struggling to survive.

Make no mistake about it: This is do or die for many of the restaurants that make our region so vibrant.

That’s why at WCPO9 we have started We’re Open Cincinnati. It’s a look online and on TV at local restaurants and businesses working hard to stay open -- in some cases adapting to the new world we are living in.

Our site includes a map of places offering takeout. You can also add restaurants to the map and suggest story ideas.

We have two reporters -- entertainment reporter Brian Mains and reporter Whitney Miller -- focused on this topic, but other staff members will contribute as well.

We know there are many great stories out there to tell.

When my family first moved to Cincinnati in 2014, we fell in love with what a great foodie town this is. We’ve enjoyed venturing across the region to try new restaurants and breweries. We’ve encountered amazing food at these places -- and even better people.

One of our favorite restaurants is the Renegade Grille inside Listermann Brewing Company. Owner Kris Buening and her family not only make some of the best wings and my favorite burger in town -- their gyro burger -- but they’re also incredibly kind people. Kris once gave us an order of fries with special seasoning. “They’re called fries with love,” she told me.

And it feels like that’s what Kris and her team put into all of their food -- love.

Last week, I ordered takeout from Renegade -- including an order of fries with “love.” Kris told me how they were open for takeout at the time but they didn’t know what they would do once their inventory of food ran out.

Sure enough, when I spoke with Kris on Monday she told me they were closed until at least April 6.

That’s especially hard for a small, family-owned business.

“We’re taking it day by day like everyone else,” Kris said. “We’re just trying to navigate through all of this. Carryout just isn’t enough to sustain our business right now. So it just seemed to be a better idea to shut down.”

There are many restaurants like Renegade that didn’t provide much takeout before. Some of these have struggled to change their business model with such short notice. Others have adapted.

We have a map and list of restaurants that are open for takeout.

I know times are tough for many of us out there in our community. People are out of work and worried about the future. But if you can afford a takeout dinner I urge you to order and enjoy.

We want to encourage everyone to specifically focus on Tuesday nights. If you can order takeout for #TakeoutTuesday please do so to show our restaurant community we are in this together.

If we love this region’s food scene, we have to be willing to fight for it.

Mike Canan is the Senior Director of Local Media Content at WCPO 9. Contact him at mike.canan@wcpo.com. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram at @Mike_Canan.