Coronavirus a year later: Chris Keilholz, ‘We were fortunate’

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.

Chris Keilholz, co-owner of Skyline Chili at the Dayton Mall

Chris Keilholz, co-owner of Skyline Chili at the Dayton Mall, said he remembers watching Gov. Mike DeWine give his first press conferences thinking the coronavirus was something that would go away in a few weeks or months.

“And as I read more about the 1918 Spanish flu, it seemed a little bit more scary,” Keilholz said.

Keilholz said his business was fortunate during the shutdown because it had a drive through and had already partnered with Doordash. He said his restaurant lost about 1/3 of its business in the early months, but nothing compared to other nearby businesses.

“It’s sad to see the empty businesses around here like Golden Corral and the movie theater. We were fortunate, lucky I guess,” Keilholz said.

The pandemic has changed the way his Skyline restaurant does business, with only half of its seating capacity being used for customers. Keilholz said the restaurant added a new HVAC system from Extreme Microbial Technologies to make his customers more comfortable.

He said customers have been supportive of the restaurant. “I think the pandemic has hurt many businesses, but it’s also given a lot of new opportunities to others that we buy services from,” Keilholz said.

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