While the pandemic forced many local establishments to scale back and in some cases even close their doors, these restaurateurs managed to build their businesses bigger and better than ever.
Fifty West Burger Bar
Despite the pandemic, Fifty West Brewing Company owner Bobby Slattery pressed on with plans to add a burger bar and beer garden to the family brewery’s Mariemont-adjacent campus last April. “Either I was going to have to continue letting go people I cared about, or we were going to figure it out,” he recalls. On the heels of the expansion’s success, Slattery opened a second location 90 miles east in Chillicothe in January, also along U.S. 50. The entire experience, he says, taught his team resilience. “The world doesn’t have to stop. You just have to think differently than you did before.”
After two-plus years of planning their fourth Covington eatery, The Standard, restaurant couple Paul Weckman and Emily Wolff—the brains behind Frida, Otto’s, and Larry’s—delayed the new spot’s opening from April to July. “At the end of the day, we thought that offering a large, beautiful outdoor space for people to safely gather in made sense,” Weckman says about the converted auto service station at Fifth and Main streets. He says his “better half,” Wolff, “has been creative in developing outdoor events that allow customers to get together safely.”
Teak Thai and Oakley Fish House
Construction complications pushed Chanaka De Lanerolle’s plans to reopen Teak, his shuttered Mt. Adams Thai restaurant, in Over-the-Rhine from last winter to April 2020. Then the pandemic pushed them to July. “A lot of my close friends think I’m kind of crazy to do this,” he says, but Teak is busy with to-go orders from old and new fans. Inspired by the success, De Lanerolle and his wife opened Oakley Fish House in November. “Our staff has been very responsible, which is awesome,” he says.