The owners of the Club 185 German Village bar and restaurant were not sure how they could meet the state's social-distancing requirements to reopen during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
They found an answer next door.
When the state announced restaurants could reopen May 21, Club 185 owners Tina and Randy Corbin started removing tables and chairs to meet the 6-foot rule for seating.
The results left the restaurant at 185 E. Livingston Ave. so bare the Corbins wondered how they could make it work.
"The place looked empty," Tina Corbin said. "And we would have had to use every other booth. We thought, 'We're going to to need barriers or we're just going to really struggle.' "
Dividers they found online were sold out or too expensive. And they worried plexiglass panels would be too clinical for the bar, with its brick walls, old wood floors and metal ceilings.
That's when they got a call from Cheryl Frizzell, a co-owner of Key Blue Prints Inc., 195 Livingston Ave., across Mohawk Street.
"I called and said, 'I want to help put barriers up and keep it homey,' " Frizzell said. "We'd been able to stay open the entire time, but we really wanted to do something to help restaurants in the village."
Frizzell offered to print patterns on foam panels, the sort typically used for signs for the Corbins, to serve as barriers between booths and tables.
Tina Corbin shared several patterns she liked from the mid-century designer Alexander Girard. A few days later, seven big panels were up, separating tables, and four small ones added height between the booths.
"I was blown away," Tina Corbin said. "It brings color to the interior, and it provides privacy."
The panels allowed the Corbins -- who also own Columbus restaurants the Little Palace, 240 S. Fourth St.; El Camino Inn, 238 S. Fourth St.; and Philco Bar + Diner, 747 N. High St. -- to return all but two tables to Club 185.
Erecting barriers between tables is just one of dozens of details the Corbins and other restaurant owners are navigating to reopen.
Club 185 tables have been cleared of everything, including salt and pepper and condiment containers.
Instead of menus, customers can scan a bar code to bring up a menu on their phone. Many of the bar stools have been removed, and no customers are allowed to stand and wait.
With the restrictions, Tina Corbin said, Club 185's business is about half what it was before the coronavirus closures, but it is far better than the 10% she estimates the restaurant earned from carryout alone.
As for the panels, she said, she likes them so much, she might keep some of them even after the pandemic passes.