The Hamburger Inn opened in 1932 – the heart of the Great Depression.
But the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is “the first time something has threatened to close our doors,” said general manager Tiffanie Cook.
“We’ll be here fighting to the end,” she said.
Like many Delaware restaurants, the Hamburger Inn, 16 N. Sandusky St., has been offering takeout meals only since Gov. Mike DeWine on March 15 ordered all bars and restaurants to close their dining areas by that evening.
The city of Delaware provided signs to several downtown restaurants, setting aside parking for customers who wait in their vehicles while takeout orders are brought to them.
The city’s economic-development department March 16 tweeted a list of 45 city restaurants that, at that point, still were offering carryout food orders.
The department also posted a list of 12 additional restaurants with a drive-thru still in operation.
At least two of the restaurants on the list of 45 had shut down all operations by March 23, so would-be diners should check on their favorite spot’s status before making the drive.
Bun’s, another landmark Delaware restaurant at 14 W. Winter St., has shut down entirely for the duration of the coronavirus emergency, said owner Vasili Konstantinidis.
He said 95% of the restaurant’s regular business is from dine-in customers. The closure also allows employees to increase their level of social distancing, he said.
“A lot of people are worse off than us,” Konstantinidis said. “We can’t wait to get back on our feet as soon as we can. We want all of our customers to stay safe and healthy – and see you soon.”
Also closed is 1808 American Bistro, 29 E. Winter St.
Those who call the restaurant hear a recorded message saying 1808 is closed until the government lifts restrictions.
Cook said the Hamburger Inn has many devoted customers, adding this week that the restaurant remained busy with takeout orders.
She said the kitchen will stay open “as long as they allow us.”
“The community support has been tremendous, and we really appreciate it,” Cook said.
She said $1 from the price of each takeout meal is being donated to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank to help families during the statewide shutdowns.
The restaurant is taking several steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus, she said.
“We want to do everything we can to prevent that from happening,” she said.
Hamburger Inn employees always wear plastic gloves – a health-department requirement before the coronavirus emergency – and use disinfectant constantly throughout the day, she said.
Like other restaurants, per state mandate for businesses still open, Hamburger Inn also checks employees’ temperatures when they arrive for work. Fever is one of the signs of coronavirus infection.
Other Delaware restaurants also reported liberal use of disinfectant and hand sanitizer and efforts to keep customers waiting for orders at least 6 feet apart.
As of March 23, one business relatively unaffected so far by the statewide shutdown was Hungry Howie’s Pizza, 815 N. Houk Road.
The shop sells only takeout orders, with no indoor dining, said shift manager Patty Welch-Schoby.
“Things are almost normal, pretty much,” she said. “Our daytime has been a little busier than normal, but it’s been dying off earlier than normal in the evenings. ... We’ve been seeing a little bit of an increase, especially with delivery.”
She said customers could order by phone or at Hungry Howie’s website. Online customers have paid with credit cards, she said, and pickup and delivery have been available.
Things were different this week at the Scoreboard Pub & Grill, 6 Troy Road.
Scoreboard’s busiest time of the year is March Madness, when customers flock to the restaurant to watch the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, said owner Bob Moore.
Running since 1939, the tournament was canceled for the first time because of the coronavirus, and the restaurant shutdown has silenced Scoreboard’s TVs, he said.
“Business is down. We are getting killed. Trying to survive is basically like putting a Band-Aid on a serious wound,” Moore said. “We’re trying to do the best we can with what we have to work with.”
Scoreboard was offering takeout meals for pickup or delivery this week. Closed-container alcoholic beverages also were available for takeout, permitted by state liquor licenses, he said.
Scoreboard’s menu is on its website and Facebook page.
Some of Scoreboard’s regular customers “have been great, trying to look out for us and our workers,” he said.
The restaurant has been using servers as delivery drivers, “and they’ve been doing a good job for us. We appreciate all of our people.”
The Greater Gouda, a store at 12 N. Sandusky St., has offered sandwiches for the convenience of shoppers and downtown workers, said owner Terri-Lynne Smiles.
During the first week of the shutdown, she said, the store had an overwhelming response from customers ordering takeout sandwiches.
“The support from this community has been absolutely incredible and overwhelming,” Smiles said.
To reduce the number of people waiting inside the store for sandwiches, she said, Greater Gouda on March 23 was limiting sandwich sales to orders placed in advance by phone.
The store’s food and staples were available for curbside pickup or home delivery, she said. Available items were listed on the Greater Gouda website.
Joanne Meyer, owner of the Backstretch, 14 S. Sandusky St., said the tavern sold few takeout meals before the restaurant shutdown, but it quickly adapted.
“It’s been very interesting,” she said. “To revamp the entire business in 12 hours was very daunting.”
Business had fallen off by about half, she said this week.
“All employees are working a few hours less, but all are working. That’s our whole goal – to keep everyone working while we’re in this new normal,” she said. “The Delaware community support has been incredible. Some customers say they order takeout three times a week and rotate between businesses. It’s been amazing.
“We have some very loyal customers and have gotten quite a few customers who have never been here before but are trying to support the downtown.”
Customers could place orders at the Backstretch website, she said.
Sealed-container alcohol sales were available for takeout, and the Backstretch has ordered special packaging that would allow takeout sales of draft beer.
At Whit’s Frozen Custard, 31 N. Sandusky St., business normally picks up when spring begins, but sales as of this week were similar to those during the winter, said owner Kaylyn Whitman.
Whit’s has curbside pickup and delivery and has been allowing only a couple of people at a time inside to pick up orders, she said.
“Delaware is a fantastic community,” she said, thanking the city for blocking off parking spaces for curbside pickup.
Customers could place orders by phone or at the Whit’s website, she said.
The shop also is getting business from such services as DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub, which deliver orders from restaurants to their customers, she said.
The Dairy Depot, 390 N. Sandusky St., has no indoor seating, but sales were below normal levels this week, said owner George Warden.
“It’s slow because not as many people are out and driving,” he said. “I don’t see as many people out and about.”
Dairy Depot also normally is an after-school stop for students no longer in school, he said.
Customers still visiting “are very supportive and we appreciate it a lot. ... We’re hanging in there. ... It’ll be interesting to see how it flows,” he said. “We’re still here, let’s put it that way.”
It would be a mistake if the state closes restaurants completely, Warden said this week.
Restaurants are food distributors and another resource for the public if supermarkets and groceries are overburdened, he said.
Richard Upton, owner of J. Gumbo’s, 9 N. Sandusky St., said this week things are going great, given the circumstances.
“Folks have taken to it pretty good,” he said.
Customers could place orders at J. Gumbo’s website or phone them in and then pick up orders curbside or in the restaurant while keeping social distance, he said.
“People have really stepped up and are listening” to advice for slowing the spread of the coronavirus, he said.
The first week of takeout-only service was busy at Shorty’s, 554 W Central Ave., but things had slowed down early this week because of the stay-at-home order issued March 22 by DeWine and Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton, said owner Tom Ibinson.
He said the tavern had made some menu reductions in response to the restaurant closure.
Customers could phone in orders and pick them up inside or wait outside in their vehicles.
“We’ve had a lot of great community support with a lot of people coming in to wish us the best,” Ibinson said.