Put-in-Bay business leaders preaching patience as bars reopen

Put-in-Bay business leaders preaching patience as bars reopen
A group of friends enjoy a summer evening on Put-in-Bay (Source: WOIO)

PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio (WOIO) - Village officials and business leaders on Put-in-Bay are gearing up for what is likely to be one of the most unique summers in modern island history.

Put-in-Bay business leaders preaching patience as bars reopen

The popular tourist and getaway spot has more than 20 bars and restaurants packed into about 400 acres off the mainland of Ottawa County.

Some viewers have reached out to 19 News expressing concern about exactly how social distancing will be enforced, given the island’s reputation for large crowds and entertainment.

“We want you here, we want to give you the level of service you expect,” said Mayor Jessica Dress. “But we’re figuring it out too and we’re adapting. Be kind, be patient, be safe.”

Dress admits things will be different for the foreseeable future.

Not every bar plans to reopen this week, despite being allowed to do so.

Those that do will of course be subject to the same rules and regulations as other establishments in Ohio.

“It is impossible for people to social distance,” an anonymous viewer emailed.

“Public relations are something the island is always aware of,” Dress told 19 News. “Perception is as important as reality.”

The Chamber of Commerce is reminding both visitors and businesses of social distancing requirements, which include proper spacing of tables, limiting the amount of customers that can sit at the tables and staff wearing masks.

Police have also been recruited to help with crowd control if lines and groups form outside of bars.

And notably absent for now is live music and entertainment.

“Returning customers have an expectation of what they want to see when they come in, so this is going to be very different,” said Brad Ohlemacher, the owner of Joe’s Bar and the Bird’s Nest Resort.

He said business owners met this week to make sure they’re all on the same page ahead of the reopening.

“We’re 100 percent sure we’re doing our part to keep [visitors] safe,” he said. “But the individuals have to do their part too.”

That, he and the mayor suggest, comes down to patience.

The Miller Ferry Line has been running limited service to and from Put-in-Bay with social distancing practices in place; the Jet Express will resume Put-in-Bay service on Friday.

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