Area bars, restaurants eager to serve customers in person again

Published: May. 7, 2020 at 9:33 PM EDT
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At Benchmark Restaurant in Perrysburg, curbside carryout keeps workers busy, but the absence of diners themselves is taking its toll.

"It's been a little bit eerie being in an empty restaurant for about two months," co-owner Jeff Dinnebeil said.

March 15 was the last day Dinnebeil and his crew served people in person. It's also the same day Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all the state's bars and restaurants closed to slow COVID-19's spread.

Thanks to a flattened curve and guidance from an

, the governor is giving the go-ahead to reopen.

"It'll be good to see this place with guests back in it," Dinnebeil said of his restaurant.

Come May 15, places with patios can start serving customers once again. By May 21, establishments with indoor seating can welcome guests.

"The staff can't wait to do what we do best, and that's make memories with people and have them into our house," Dinnebeil said.

When time comes to reopen things won't look the same. Bars and restaurants must create

to limit seating, space out customers and eliminate gatherings.

"We're really going to try to let as many people experience Benchmark as we're able to while staying smart and safe," Dinnebeil said.

With a sense of normalcy on the horizon, the governor says we all need to do our part or it could be back to square one.

"What you and I do is going to determine our ability to get the economy moving, keep it moving," DeWine said in a statewide address on Thursday.

It's advice Dinebeil's staff is following as they prepare to serve customers once again.

"Some things will obviously be a little bit different, but that'll be OK," Dinnebeil said.

When bars and restaurants reopen, customers won't be required to wear marks although it's highly recommended. Workers, on the other hand, will have to except in certain circumstances. Constant

will also be required.