Christie Bruffy of Highline Coffee Co., 691 High St., has reopened – but with caution.

To help her and other business owners draw customers, the city of Worthington and some partner agencies have started a campaign for assistance.

The Worthington Responsible Business Opening & Operations Team, or ReBOOT, has created the "We're Open" initiative to remind customers that restaurants and retail establishments have emerged from the COVID-19 coronavirus threat.

"The one thing we've heard over and over again is Worthington needs a unified marketing campaign about reopening and that we're open," said David McCorkle, the city's economic-development director. "And this is it."

On May 15, Gov. Mike DeWine announced a state order that closed all bars and restaurants to dine-in customers; carryout and delivery services still were permitted. Shortly afterward, retailers were ordered to follow the directive.

The state has lifted many restrictions, including allowing restaurants to open patio dining and inside dining in May, as long as social-distancing guidelines were established and could be followed.

"We wanted to create a group that supported our businesses that will demonstrate Worthington's reopening efforts as a shining example of what to do safely and successfully," McCorkle said.

DeWine also has authorized larger venues, such as zoos, country clubs and movie theaters, to open.

McCorkle said the ReBOOT team sent out about 1,000 questionnaires to businesses, asking them what the city could do to help individual venues, and about 40% responded.

"We actually started out not knowing what they needed," McCorkle said. "We weren't finding requests for the city's financial support. They'd rather follow the rules to allow their customers to feel comfortable coming in."

At Bruffy's Highline Coffee Co., customers may order coffee drinks and other merchandise from the door, which is what Bruffy considers a safe distance for all involved.

"When we started back May 2, we decided this would be the safest," she said.

Along with all participants, she received a ReBOOT "We're Open" static cling for her window.

Bruffy also obtained a temporary designated 5-minute parking sign for carryout customers so they do not have to park too far away.

As part of the reopening campaign, 100 brightly colored feather flags with Worthington branding will appear along High Street, McCorkle said.

The city, Experience Worthington and other team members plan to use social media to promote the "We're Open" campaign and provide updates, he said.

Meanwhile, Rachel Moresea of Columbus Public Health plans to help store owners meet safe-distancing standards, McCorkle said. Experts from the Small Business Association and local banks will be available to answer questions on small-business loans and paycheck-protection programs, he said.

Janelle Gearing, manager of the Whitney House, 666 High St., said June 12 the restaurant had been open for only a week at that point, so it was too early to tell how effective the marketing campaign would be.

But like Highline, the Whitney House also received a temporary 5-minute parking-space marker, she said, so she is thankful the marketing team is helping get the word out about reopenings.

"All of that is super helpful," Gearing said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary