When Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all restaurants closed March 15 -- with the exception of carryout and delivery -- Anne Boninsegna and Jen Lindsey naturally were upset.
The owners of The Kitchen, 231 E. Livingston Ave. in German Village, were about to suffer the same uncertainty and financial stress as others who work at restaurants and bars, which were closed because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
"To be really honest, we were texting back and forth," Boninsegna said. "I burst into tears."
"I literally bawled as I tried to figure out what to do," Lindsey said.
The Kitchen, which opened in 2013, is different in that it is considered central Ohio's only participatory-dining restaurant.
In other words, guests participate in cooking the meals they're going to eat.
With no patrons on the premises there would be no business, or so the business partners thought.
The restaurant was closed on Sunday when the order was issued as well as the following day. But March 17 was Taco Tuesday -- of course, as carryout only.
Boninsegna and Lindsey also began packing meal kits for two, costing $28 to $55, with cooking instructions provided.
"We call them participatory kits to go," Lindsey said. "This is literally our concept in a bag."
One recent choice included bourbon-glazed pork chops, bacon mac and cheese, a salad and cookies.
Four meals are available Wednesday through Sunday and are packed in eco-friendly containers. Individual charcuterie plates, with cheese, cured meats, pickled items, nuts and crackers, are $10. Alcohol also is available.
The shutdown has affected the bottom line, as the staff has gone from 25 full- and part-time workers down to eight full-time employees.
Lindsey said the restaurant has responded to feedback from customers.
"We made it much simpler," she said. "From the first week to the second week, we made some tweaks."