YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As the Valley’s economy slowly recovers from the COVID-19 shutdown, the handful of downtown Youngstown restaurants open five days a week are eager to see business pick back up again, but it’s a slow process.
It has been a month now since the food court inside 20 Federal Place was allowed to reopen. With the building’s largest tenant — VXI Global Solutions — slowly returning, those working there are still waiting for that “v-shaped” recovery some have talked about.
“We still have steady customers but not all of them are back. Most of the customers are coming from… are working from home,” said Ibrahim Jafar, of Eman’s Lebanese Cuisine.
Only Eman’s Lebanese Cuisine and Capitol Grill are open every day. Others only operate a few days a week and some not at all.
Lunchtime brings some customers, but the businesses continue to be carry-out only.
“The tables being down, if they space the tables six feet apart, people can sit down and eat lunch. That’s really what they’re looking for,” said Christine Mechling, of Capitol Grill.
Mechling has worked at Capitol Grill for the last nine years and admits the months they were shut down were difficult. She said she volunteered to return even with all the new restrictions in place.
“It’s like, this is life now, you know? Masks, social distancing. But it’s okay, I’m glad to be back,” she said.
Both Mechling and Jafar admit recovery is going to take some time, a lot of patience and even some finger-crossing.
“Oh, it’s very hard. We’ve been hurt but the whole country is hurt, so we gotta wait and see,” Jafar said.
“Scary, it’s scary. I don’t know if it will ever be the same,” Mechling said.
But they’ll keep trying.