ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — As restaurants once limited to carry out and delivery welcome customers back for outdoor dining, a popular West Side staple just fired-up its kitchen for the first time in months.
Operations at Joe’s Deli abruptly came to a halt back in March after the owner, Joe, tested positive for COVID-19.
“It was a nightmare. You go 'Oh my God, is he going to be the next statistic?'” Jeannette Kanaan said.
The discovery was a complete shock for the 72-year-old and his family.
“It was very deceiving. We just thought he had a little cold,” Kanaan said.
Joe, who’s used to cooking in the kitchen at the restaurant, found himself sidelined in the hospital.
“My husband has never complained about being tired or not wanting to go to work. Ever. The hardest thing was we couldn’t see him for six weeks,” Kanaan said.
Kanaan said during that tough time the community support lifted their spirits, even on the darkest days.
“I just can’t thank them enough. We have the best community in the world,” Kanaan said.
With Joe now back home and recovering, the family decided it was the right time to re-start the restaurant.
“Excited, ready to go. I missed the customers, I missed my employees. He [Joe] told me I can’t wait to be back cooking,” Kanaan said.
First in line Friday morning was long-time customer Boo Geist.
“I eat here once or twice a week,” Geist said.
Despite getting the go-ahead to host customers on their patio and invite them in next week, the booths and chairs here will remain empty for the time being.
“We’re just not ready,” Kanaan said.
When they do finally welcome their customers back inside their professionally sanitized restaurant, Joe wants to be there.
“Lord willing, when the dining room opens, we’ll make sure he’s here,” Kanaan said.
For now—from a distance—the community will celebrate Joe’s recovery and the return of the comfort food that’s been around for more than four decades.
“There’s a lot to be thankful for today. Nicest people and owners you are ever going to meet,” Geist said.
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