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Downtown Cleveland Restaurants Hoping For Increased Traffic From NFL Draft

Restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic as more residents opted to stay home. [Maderla / Shutterstock]
A sign in a window that reads 'come in, we're open.'

Restaurants in Downtown Cleveland are prepping for what hopefully will be a boom in business thanks to the NFL Draft this week by expanding service options and bringing on additional staff.

Business has already picked up this week at Shooters, said Kimberly Kepler, general manager of the Flats West Bank mainstay. It’s hard to say if that’s because of the draft or the nice weather, she said, but the hope is that the trend continues into the summer after more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions.

"We're ready to get back to our normal and our busy, and our having a good time,” Kepler said. “That's what we do here at Shooters, we throw a party pretty much every weekend, so we're ready to get back to that party."

Business was slower last year due to the pandemic, Kepler said, and so far this year, the restaurant has had some difficulty finding staff.

“We’ve put ads out on basically every source that we could to get employees this year, and it’s been very minimal, as to who’s been reaching out and setting up interviews,” Kepler said. “We’ve been looking for staff for the past couple months now, so we’re as ready as we can be with the people that we have.”

At Lindey’s Lake House in the Flats, the patio is closed for ongoing construction, said server’s assistant Otilia Martin. But for those coming to dine inside, she said social distancing will be prioritized.

The restaurant has brought on plenty of new staff in recent weeks, she said, and will continue to do so for about the next month, looking ahead to an uptick in spring and summer business.

“They come in for an interview and if they are right for the position we hire them, right there,” Martin said.

Lindey’s, with its open-air vibe and wrap-around patio seating, had a busy summer last year despite the pandemic, Martin said, and much of the same is expected this year as the weather warms up.

“We are prepared to have 24/7 busy days, as soon as we open to when we close,” Martin said. “We are going to be nonstop busy, especially in the summer with the nice weather.”

Nauti Bar in the Flats is offering lunchtime service for the draft, said bartender Maurice Hill. Employees are ready to handle increased traffic, he said, despite some initial difficulties to staff up to the numbers they needed.

“A week ago, we were worried that we weren’t going to have enough staff,” Hill said. “But we’ve got people coming that have worked here prior, and friends and family. We’ve got them all together and we’re making it happen.”

The bar might continue its new services depending on how the week goes, Hill said. For now, the focus is on meeting demand brought on by draft revelers.

“We have signage outside, we’re ready,” Hill said. “Bring them on.”