Coronavirus a year later: Cameron Shade, ‘You’re not quite sure what’s next’

Past year has dramatically changed area leaders personally and how they operate their businesses and communities.

A year ago today marked the moment that COVID-19 went from a emerging threat on a somewhat distant horizon to a grim reality that would kill more than 500,000 Americans in its first year and alter the lives of millions.

The Dayton Daily News checked in with 12 area business and community leaders and let them tell us what they learned about their lives, businesses and policy making during the pandemic.

Cameron Shade of TJ Chumps

Foot traffic slowed at TJ Chumps in Miamisburg as the pandemic arrived and leading up to the state’s shutdown of restaurants on March 15, according to Cameron Shade, that location’s general manager, who has worked for the business since 2016.

Shade said he remembers feeling unsure of how things might develop.

“You’re not quite sure what’s next, how long (it will last), uncertainty whether you’re even going to have a job the next day,” he said.

TJ Chumps shifting into carry-out only mode on March 17 was “new to everybody” but it felt good to see the support the local community provided by continuing to patronize the business, Shade said.

Reopening with various modifications, including social-distancing barriers, the restaurant saw “incredible,” unexpected sales due to pent-up demand, something it had to tackle without the benefit of the typical March-through-May hiring season, he said.

Enforcing Ohio’s mask mandate was a challenge, as was quarantining and contact tracing the few times they were necessary and adjusting to a seasonal slowdown as patio-season gave way to the holiday season, Shade said.

COVID-19 at the one-year mark finds the restaurant adapting to use all the space it possibly can and working to expanding its patio and obtain a permit to serve alcohol there.

Balancing increased to-go sales with in-house business means a changing dynamic in terms of rules for staffers and and their various roles, Shade said.

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