Ohio's stay-at-home order affects even 'essential' businesses

essential businesses
Posted at 10:24 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 09:47:45-04

MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, Ohio — Ohio's stay-at-home order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Monday, and that means only businesses deemed "essential" can continue to operate.

RELATED: Is my business 'essential' under Governor DeWine's stay-at-home order?

Governor Mike DeWine said the stay-at-home order is a matter of life and death.

"The law is an instructor, the law is a deterrent, and what you hope is that the law does not have to actually be applied very often," DeWine said.

RELATED: Will I be arrested for violating the stay-at-home order?

As malls and other non-essential businesses shut down Monday, some essential businesses made changes to how they do business.

Fat Head's Brewery

Fat Head's Brewery's Middleburg Heights location will remain open, as a restaurant providing to-go food orders and as a beverage manufacturer and distributor. That location will resume to-go food orders on Wednesday, after a brief suspension to reassess inventory.

Its North Olmsted and Canton locations have temporarily stopped providing to-go food orders. In a Facebook message, the president of the North Olmsted location wrote in part, "This decision is solely based on protecting our staff, their families and our customers. Hopefully, by closing, we are doing our small part in helping stop the spread of this virus."

"Normally, this would be a pretty vibrant restaurant, pretty vibrant beer hall as we like to call it," said Bill Wetmore, sales and marketing at Fat Head's.

The large dining room in Middleburg Heights is currently closed to customers except those picking up food, and many of the location's more than 150 workers are not working right now.

"We downshifted immediately in the restaurant to two or three managers on duty to really take orders, run the back of the house, front of the house, and then a few people in the kitchen to create the dishes that are to go or curbside pickup," Wetmore said.

Wetmore said there have also been cutbacks on the brewing and production side to make sure workers can spread out. The orders from the governor over the last week or so have affected the business and its sales.

"It’s been very difficult on an emotional level," Wetmore said. "We definitely had some very challenging and difficult discussions that we had to have last week."

He described the people that work at Fat Head's as a family.

"It was definitely difficult to talk to family members and say, 'Hey, we’re not going to see you for a little bit of time. But we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that you have someplace to come back to that’s going to let you continue your career and continue to be a part of something that we hope is going to be big and important for Cleveland for many years to come,'" Wetmore said.

Wetmore said it was "mission critical" to keep the business going, both for those still working and for those who will eventually come back to work.

"We moved into this spot in July of ’18," Wetmore said. "It was a $15 million project for us moving into this spot, so we kind of put a lot of chips on the table and everything went up. Rent went up, we had to buy a bunch of equipment to operate on a bigger scale, brewing equipment, fermenting equipment. We ramped up our personnel. So our overhead costs are significantly higher than they were, say, two years ago when we were in our smaller facility."

Stay Dog Day Care and Boarding

Another essential business included in the stay-at-home order is doggy day care.

As a 24-hour facility year-round, Stay Dog Day Care and Boarding is serving essential workers who need a place to drop off their pets, as well as anyone else who needs a place for their dog to go.

"It’s really nice that we’re able to offer those services to people who work odd hours, people in the health care industry, people in manufacturing, firemen, police, things like that," owner Amy Forrester said. "People who wait tables, bartenders. No one works nine to five anymore, not a lot."

She added, "I would say about 80% of the dogs that are being dropped off right now belong to health care workers and other essential workers that are still going to work every day, and then about 20% are like, 'Hey man, get my dog out of the house.'"

Forrester put out a post on social media Monday morning to let people know they would remain open.

"Everyone who picked up their dog so far are like, 'Thank God, thank God you’re staying open,'" Forrester said. "Because they just didn’t know what they were going to do, especially health care workers who are now working even longer shifts and more, and then as people test positive or have to go out until their test results come back, others of them are picking up the slack there and working longer hours."

Forrester said that even when they are fully staffed, only about six employees are in the large building, so social distancing is not a problem.

While the day care is doing less business than usual, Forrester is happy to stay open for people who still need their services.

"As a residential pet facility, we were really glad that we were included as people who could provide support to people who are providing support for everyone else," Forrester said.

She said it was important to offer people "the dependability and the flexibility, that they'll know that we're here for them" and added that they are also accepting new clients if any pet owners' regular day cares have temporarily shut down.

"Obviously they’re all going to go back to their regular day cares when this is all over, and they should, but we’re happy to be the back-up until everyone else is back up," Forrester said.

Stay Dog Day Care can be reached at (216) 346-7872.

Cleveland Metroparks

Cleveland Metroparks is continuing to operate parks and golf courses as essential services. You can find closures and updates here.

The Metroparks' golf courses remain open with limited hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting, with the exception of Little Met and Mastick Woods.

"In addition we have implemented additional precautions at our golf courses such as limiting access in the clubhouse, closing food operations, sanitizing golf carts after every use and limiting use of flags," a spokesperson for Cleveland Metroparks wrote in an email.

That spokesperson also included tips for using the Metroparks during this time, from not using the parks or trails if you have symptoms, to following CDC-recommended hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing and practicing social distancing by staying at least six feet from other park users.

She urged park users to avoid all playgrounds and outdoor fitness stations, which are currently closed, and to be aware that public restrooms and water fountains may be closed for safety. Park users should also plan to bring a trash bag for any disposable items they bring in to the parks, to protect employees from trash left behind.