By Laura Cooper Wedekind
Easton’s tenant coordination team has overseen 15 retail, restaurant and office grand openings since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March—with several more in active development and expected to open in the coming months.
Though we had to rethink operations to follow new health & safety guidelines, these tenant openings have remained true to their intent as fun-filled celebrations.
Changes & Challenges
In order for recent tenants to come online, our team had to navigate delays, rethink how trades work safely together in a space, and figure out new ways to handle critical components like permitting, inspections and marketing. While this took some time and strategic effort on the front end, things began to move smoothly once these process snags were resolved.
One big change that had to be made was the communication and collaboration amongst the Easton team, our tenants, and our contracting teams via video conferencing tools in lieu of face-to-face meetings. This pivot ended up working extremely well, so much so that it may remain the standard once things return to normal.
Keeping the ‘Grand’ in Grand Opening
Once everything was approved by the city of Columbus and it became time to open, the Easton team ensured everything operated safely. For retail grand openings, tenants made sure an employee was staffed at the door to encourage hand sanitizer use, uphold occupancy thresholds, and sanitize surfaces.
For restaurant grand openings, we helped our tenants monitor table separation, enforce social distancing recommendations, and confirm that kitchen staff and employees were following proper protocol, as well as state/industry guidance. For several tenants—both new and existing—we helped extend their patio space to allow for more safe, outdoor seating availability.
Since most of these openings happened within Easton’s new expansion, tenants are working closely together to feature each others’ food, drink and other products—resulting in the cultivation of a true neighborhood feel in the district.
Throughout the pandemic, Easton was able to prepare thousands of meals for frontline healthcare workers. As part of grand opening efforts, we had tenants actively approach us wanting to either join our existing efforts or give back in their own ways. These initiatives are at the heart of Steiner’s mission of giving back to the community, and our team is now strategizing ways to bake philanthropy into each and every tenant opening for the future.
With all of these new hurdles, opportunities and lessons learned, our tenants reported successful pandemic grand openings that have since carried over into sustained business.