Columbus restaurants and bars get creative amid coronavirus shutdown

Watershed Kitchen and Bar is now offering cocktail kits in response to the forced shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo courtesy: Brittany Bailey, 10TV)

COLUMBUS, Ohio —Times are tough for many central Ohio restaurants and days these days.

"We went from our best week of sales to essentially having to scramble to stay in business overnight," said FUSIAN co-founder Stephan Harman. "Rather than just giving up, we’re trying to fight through this in any way we can."

With so many central Ohio bars and restaurants closed for businesses, many may be wondering what is happening to all of the food deliveries. Harman had the same thought. So he and his co-founders came up with a plan.

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"We feel like we have an opportunity here to take fresh food that otherwise would go bad and get it into the hands of people living in their homes right now, in seamless ways, and ultimately keep the supply chain moving," Harman said. "Right now, with restaurants being closed, we have a golf ball in the garden hose situation, and we’re trying to clear that up and hopefully inspire other restaurants that are able to do what we’re doing to do the same."

FUSIAN launched FUSIAN grocery on its website. The new program allows customers to buy fresh produce and some pantry staples directly from the restaurant. They can pick it up the groceries at the restaurant or have them delivered for $1.

"We want to create as much versatility in our supply, in our grocery list, as possible so people can take the avocado that they would have put in the California roll and make guacamole with it," he said. "Ultimately if we can get food from here to your house, that’s a win for all of us."

Meanwhile, Watershed Kitchen and Bar is finding new ways to quench customers' thirsts.

The company already sells a pre-bottled Old Fashioned. That gave the leaders there an idea about finding new ways for customers to enjoy their cocktails at home. So now, Watershed is selling cocktail kits.

"When everything started happening, we wanted to find a way that we could reach out to our community, still offer the comforts that they know us for, so we came up with these cocktail kit ideas that would pair with the spirits that we actually offer," said Andrew Schmitt, general manage of Watershed Kitchen and Bar.

The Bees Knees kit comes with gin, lemons and honey. The Gold Rush pairs bourbon with lemon and honey, while the Watershed Mule teams up vodka with simple syrup, lime and ginger beer. All come with a handwritten recipe card.

Each kit should serve about 17 drinks. The kit ingredients, minus the spirits, are designed to last up to two weeks. Customers can stop in to boy those kits and other merchandise or opt for curbside delivery.

"With the times that we’re in right now, we know that people are self-quarantining and are at home, so just to bring a little more normalcy to your everyday routine and also support a local business is something that we wanted to be able to offer to our big fans out there," Schmitt said.

The hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

There are now 34,208 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio; 2,080 people have died from the virus and 6,205 were hospitalized, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Breakdown of Ohio cases by county >>

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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