As the leaves change and the air cools down, there is a beautiful atmosphere in downtown Kent. Usually, this time of year is an exciting one for students, community members and businesses alike. However, the impact of COVID-19 makes fall a worrisome time for local restaurant owners. As cases rise across the country, it becomes more of a risk to dine indoors. And with the weather growing colder, patio seating won’t be an option for much longer. This leaves local restaurants wondering how their businesses will stay afloat this fall and winter.
Roman Osorio and his sister Yarelin Beyah started their restaurant, Mi Casa, in summer of 2014. Specializing in authentic Puerto Rican fare, Mi Casa has received lots of support from the surrounding community. One key aspect that sets Mi Casa apart is its atmosphere — everything is made from scratch daily with fresh ingredients and the recipes were passed down from Osorio’s mother. Although the COVID-19 pandemic is creating hardships for small business owners everywhere, Osorio is remaining positive.
“We are looking forward to spring, as we are going to be relocating into downtown Lorain,” he said. “COVID-19 has been a learning experience. Things have slowed down drastically, but there’s also a lot of faithful customers that still show support and keep us afloat.”
Now, customer loyalty is more important than ever. With an emergence of campaigns to shop small, there is an emphasis on supporting locally owned restaurants instead of frequenting big chains. The key difference is that when you shop local, you make direct contact with the people whose livelihood you’re supporting. Putting a face behind the name of the restaurant helps to show how important your purchase is to the business owner.
Another Cleveland business, Cleveland Vegan, has had a loyal customer base since it opened in 2012. According to owner Laura Ross, she and her husband began the business as a vegan catering company. However, there was such a demand from the local community that they grew quickly and opened their storefront cafe in Lakewood just two years later. But, with the impact of COVID-19, Cleveland Vegan had to make some big changes.
“We were closed for two months, so naturally that had a big impact,” Ross said. “When we reopened, we had to change up our model somewhat. We geared up for lots of to-go servers and vamped up our grab and go offerings. Very fortunately, the response has been and continues to be very positive. Things are going well.”
WIth the success of their takeout and the readily available grab-and-go box options offered, Ross hopes that Cleveland Vegan will continue to maintain business throughout this fall and winter season.
If you don’t usually stray from chain restaurants, but are looking to expand your boundaries, now is the time! Instead of grabbing a Starbucks or making a Taco Bell stop, try stopping at a local restaurant or coffee shop in Kent [linked below] the next time you’re looking to get takeout. You’ll make a crucial, positive impact on the community and the food and drink won’t disappoint!
Locally owned restaurants and cafes available for takeout:
Support Student Media
Hi, I’m Maria McGinnis, a senior journalism student from Stow, Ohio. I’m also the editor in chief of A Magazine. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty, and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.