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Dining Room Crowds Are Small But Thankful As Ohio Restaurants Reopen

Craig and Teresa Dame at Pauls on Fifth.
Nick Evans
Craig and Teresa Dame at Paul's on Fifth.

Paul’s on Fifth in Grandview is normally packed for lunch. Instead, waitresses in masks lean on the diner’s cash register in between serving a half dozen or so tables of customers.

Fran Freeman is a regular, and she glances through the paper before getting up to pay.

“I was so excited about it being open today,” Freeman says. “Especially, their special on Thursday is my favorite, and I’m just glad it opened on a Thursday.”

That special would be the liver and onions.

“It was delicious,” she says with a chuckle.

Craig Dame loves Paul’s red sauce, and he says the chicken parmesan is his favorite. His wife Teresa says all the pastas are great, but she’s particularly fond of the wedding soup.

Teresa says they’d been looking forward to a lunch out and started planning yesterday.

“We did, he asked me—he’s still working—but he says, 'Can I come get you tomorrow and we’ll go to Paul’s for lunch,' and I said, 'Yes, please!'”

Craig says they didn’t quite realize how much they looked forward to going out to eat.

“Whether it’s here at Paul’s or some other place for dinner,” he pauses, looking for the words, “we’ve really missed it a lot.”

“You don’t really know how much you take for granted until it’s gone," Teresa adds.

Bill Goldthwaite went to Paul's on Fifth to celebrate his birthday.
Credit Nick Evans / WOSU
Bill Goldthwaite went to Paul's on Fifth to celebrate his birthday.

Another customer, Bill Goldthwaite is celebrating his 99th birthday. There’s silver happy birthday balloon and a cupcake on the table. 

“Yes, it’s very nice,” he says. “Rather than taking it home—it’s nice to be able to stay.”

Many restaurants are sticking with carry-out, at least for the time being. According to the Ohio Restaurant Association’s most recent survey, 54% planned to open Thursday, with another 28% reopening soon.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.