Banquet, catering centers given green light

By Tara Jones -

LIMA — Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Thursday that beginning Monday, June 1, catering and banquet centers will be able to reopen.

For places like Veterans Memorial Civic Center, this means its normal bookings of wedding receptions, graduation parties and luncheons will be able to resume.

“We know that we’ve had a lot of our guests that held weddings and weren’t able to hold their receptions. Those guests are now looking to still hold a reception — they can come here now to hold that reception,” said CEO Abe Ambroza. “We have some of our normal clients like the Rotary that have their luncheons and their meetings that we’re hoping will be coming back here soon.”

The centers will be capped at 300 people despite the state’s mass gathering recommendation remaining at 10 people. In order to maintain social distancing, the centers are being advised to operate under similar guidelines as restaurants, which opened up indoor dining Thursday.

Ambroza said he and Civic Center staff will be keeping an eye on the successes and pitfalls of local restaurants for guidance. At a minimum, the plan is to recommend facial coverings and use space markings and plexiglass partitions to help distance guests.

The Civic Center’s exhibition hall can be divided into three rooms or as one large hall that has the capacity to hold 1,000 people with tables set up.

The restrictions on theaters and large event centers have not yet been cleared, so Ambroza said their early summer scheduling will have to stick to those banquet-and catering-style events. The staff has already been in contact with its current bookings for June and July to confirm the go-ahead.

“Right now, this lobby is supposed to be filled with kids getting ready for a dance recital,” Ambroza said in a press conference Thursday evening just after Husted announced the news. “Theater has not been cleared to go, but we’re trying to get plans in place so that if we do get that clear, hopefully by the middle of June we’re able to do something in Crouse Hall for those dance recitals. … As soon as live music is allowed, we’ll definitely be doing that.”

Like with all reopening announcements, this doesn’t mean all centers will be able to re-open right away. The Lima VFW Post 1275 announced on its Facebook that it will not be opening “until further notice due to lack of help.”

Other centers like the Knights of Columbus, UNOH Event Center, Lima Elks Lodge and Lima American Legion had not yet posted updates online as of 6:30 p.m. Thursday while The Centre at Bluffton posted they are excited to return.

By Tara Jones

Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.

Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.

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