COLUMBUS, Ohio — Many downtown restaurants that are already working to recover from a lengthy closure due to the coronavirus are now dealing with another blow — damage caused by protests Thursday night.
Robert Caplin, who owns retail space at South Third and Gay streets, said a resident of the building — which has 55 apartment units inside — texted him around 2 a.m. about damage.
“It’s sad what brought all this on, but it’s sad that it came to riots,” Caplin said.
Xue Chen, a partner at Poke Brothers, a restaurant on the ground floor of the building, said the restaurant had only recently reopened.
“We’ll probably have to shut down for a while,” he said. “And it’s probably not clean now.”
Chen said he was able to watch the protesters breaking the glass to get into the building through security camera feeds. The protesters took drinks from coolers, some food and small decorative items.
A crew was boarding up 11 broken windows Friday at Winans Chocolates & Coffees on South High Street. A man inside who did not want his name used said he didn’t know when the business would reopen.
The windows at Nosh on South High also were smashed, as were those at Einstein Bros. Bagels on South High and The Goat, a restaurant in a Lifestyles Communities building on South High.
Omar D’Angelo, the owner of Palmas Tropical Escape on North High Street, said he just reopened on Thursday, having been closed since March 15. On Friday, he kept Palmas dark; it will remain closed on Saturday, too. He was planning to board up the windows on Friday afternoon, just in case.
“We support the cause,” D’Angelo, a native of Argentina, said of the protesters. “We do not support the damage.
“We are underwater. This is not helping.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said several business owners contacted the city Friday about the damages. He stressed the need for peaceful protests.
“We will do everything in our power to do everything to make sure there’s not destruction of property,” Ginther said. The city is committed to working with business owners so they can repair the damage and reopen as quickly as possible, he said.
Lisa Defendiefer, deputy director of operations & advocacy for the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District, said crews helped property owners with clean up.
She said she is concerned about the viability of Downtown restaurants that were already struggling because of the coronavirus shutdown and the lack of Downtown workers to frequent them now.
Small business owners are wondering if they want to reopen, she said. “I can’t blame them for that.”