TLV Launching into a Pandemic

By Ashleigh Passon

Ashleigh’s piece explains how she and her husband chose Marietta to open a restaurant and opening day ended up coinciding with the lockdown order.  She’ll be telling more about their journey through the pandemic in future issues. As I drove by one day in March when no store had any toilet paper or hand sanitizer, I noticed a toilet paper pyramid in their window with a sign offering free supplies to anyone who needed them. Although new to the community, they jumped right in to lend a hand like so many others were doing. Read on, and check out their restaurant!  Christiane Marshall

owners outside of TVL restaurantYou never expect to have to deal directly with any global crisis. Most times you have the pleasure of either reading the paper or watching the evening news to get the details of what another country is dealing with.  That all quickly changed when COVID-19 took over the world and radically changed everyone’s lives.   I read and followed the current news like everyone else on what was happening, but I never thought that when my husband and myself decided to open our restaurant that our world would be flipped on its head. 

Now mind you, we are world travelers and have always prided ourselves on being solution-oriented.  During the summer of 2019, we were happily working out our very detailed Louisiana plan to open our Shawarma Food Truck.  My husband Uri was currently working at the Cleveland Clinic as an interpreter, and I had started my career working on movies as “crafty” or craft service feeding people on movie sets including actors and directors. The last movie I served  was Cherry,  directed  by the Russo brothers.

Then in January of 2019, we left that life behind to move to Marietta, Ohio to check out a location for our restaurant.  Everything was smoothly falling into place.  We spent the afternoon checking out the town and what would soon become TLV Israel Mediterranean restaurant.  February rolls around and we are moved in and steadily making progress designing our menu, and getting the restaurant cleaned and organized. 

After a few soft openings and a lot of buzz going around town about us, we finally have our big opening on March, 9th.  We stayed busy and focused, delighted in our hard work.  By Wednesday March 11 we had decided to have a team meeting about the seriousness of the pandemic.  We are a new business at the mercy of a global crisis and we now have to be transparent with the community about how we handle the business in respect to the community.

The seriousness of this situation couldn’t be more real. 

As a new restaurant, we wanted our customers to feel safe and that the people running the place are present and prepared to handle any situation thrown at them.  We were incredibly successful the first full week.  We finally received the news from the Governor of Ohio on March 12th that Sunday, March 13th would be the last day for all businesses to be open to the public except for curbside service.  We decided to take an incredibly stressful situation and convert it into an opportunity to regroup, reorganize and fine tune our business. 

We knew that how we would react to this stressful situation would speak volumes about us as a new business.  After all, we were the new kids on the block and this was now our community. We wanted to face this together.  We decided to stay open and serve.  We had a donation center with clothes, paper towels, baby wipes, toilet paper, latex gloves, extra masks, and hand sanitizer.  We offered free meals to anyone who was hungry but didn’t have the money to cover it.  We posted daily in our Facebook page about our progress and was offered help to anyone who needed it. 

We have been fortunate in this situation. Some businesses didn’t make it through, and some had to hold back from operating at all.  A lot of people decided to remodel and catch up on work. We were all in the fight for our lives and livelihood.  This whole pandemic has felt like an attack on small businesses, but luckily we are all a lot more resilient than we recognized.  We are still thriving and doing better than ever.  We have been moving forward with our plans to open a bar and bakery.  Inclusiveness and community are so deeply important to us at TLV.  We have been fortunate to have the amazing support from the community.  We are looking forward to having you in for lunch or dinner.  Marietta, Ohio is truly as magical place to have a business.