The thrivers and the survivors of restaurants during COVID-19

How Cincinnati’s food scene is adapting to the pandemic

On March 15, Governor Mike Dewine signed an executive order “barring all in-person dining and bar service in Ohio, but allowing restaurants to continue preparing food for carry-out and delivery service.”

COVID-19 has done more than bring despair, fear, and sickness to an entire nation; it has jeopardized the one thing that all Americans love the most, and physically, cannot live without…food. Food has been coined with the saying that “it brings people together,” but in these crucial times, people are being separated more than ever through social distancing. Now, your favorite pizza joints, seafood places, and barbeque sites could now possibly be closed or confined to the inconsistent possibilities of delivery and carry-out. 

Here is a list of local restaurants in Cincinnati that have been affected by COVID-19:


A Dewey’s employee prepares a pizza. Dewey’s has continued to make pizza in the midst of COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of: Jeff Cubina/ flickr)

Dewey’s Pizza: This well-loved pizza joint and voted Best of Cincinnati is still receiving as much lucrative business with or without COVID-19. The employees are doing their best to lighten the mood while letting everyone know that Dewey’s doors are still open!


Just Q’in BBQ: Just Q’in has a following consisting of Walnut Hills residents and barbecue lovers alike. Their menu items, with the most popular being the juicy delectable brisket, have been continuing to delight each guest that walks through their doors. They have also continued as a faith-based company, keeping God as the center of their work and serving not only delicious food but prayers of love and compassion. They recently, as a part of the many Easter pre-orders received, gave a second order free so that the customer could give to a family in need. “I felt like it was something God was telling me to do,” owner Matt Cuff said.


Primavista: This, as described by Google Reviews, “elegant, and upscale” Italian Restaurant is beloved by its customers and most famous for their mouth-watering seafood items. They received multiple awards by Cincinnati Magazine’s Readers Choice, with one of them being “Best Italian Restaurant”. However, the public was stunned to hear that the luxury Italian place they knew and loved was closing, and would stay that way for a while. They wrote a statement on their website. “Due to mandatory closures caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we will be closed until further notice. We look forward to serving you in the future. Sorry for any inconvenience.” 


Oriental Wok: Oriental Wok is a traditional and friendly-staffed Chinese restaurant. They’ve perfected the art of quality Chinese dishes, and haven’t stopped, considering they are still open and working diligently with delivery and carryout as their main source of income, as is the case for many of restaurants in Cincinnati. They also have expressed an abundance of gratitude towards healthcare workers, consisting of many doctors, nurses, and physicians. They even started a project titled “Adopt a Doctor” on their website, where you can send boxed meals to a healthcare worker of your choice.


Like many other restaurants, Taste of Belgium has been forced to alter the way they prepare and present food due to the pandemic. (Photo courtesy of: 5chw4r7z/ flickr)

Taste of Belgium: “We take traditional Belgian recipes and we twist them; we take American classics and we Belgianize them. We believe elegant cuisine can be served with a down-to-earth attitude and humble foods can be served elegantly”.This is an excerpt from the Taste of Belgium website that captures all that this sweet and savory locally-loved restaurant has to offer. Their crispy and sweet waffles give you a little piece of Europe and a whole bunch of flavor. Unfortunately, they decided it was time to hang up the curtains, and temporarily closed their OTR and Clifton locations because of the coronavirus. “I’m really disappointed that Taste of Belgium closed, because every time I went there with my family, it really felt like I was experiencing a different country and especially so close to home”, Natalie Roell, ’23, said.


Disclaimer: Chatterbox member, Azariah Cuff, is the daughter of Matt Cuff, the owner of Just Q’in BBQ