Downtown Kent local businesses start expectations and safety regulations for this coming fall

Tree City Coffee & Pastry is located on 135 E. Erie St. Suite 101 in Kent, Ohio.

Gina Schlegel Reporter

As fall approaches, local businesses popular among Kent State students are continuing safe practices, some of those being: Tree City Coffee & Pastry, Over Easy Morning Cafe, Water Street Tavern, and Popped!

Tree City Coffee & Pastry:

Owner of Tree City Coffee & Pastry, Rebekah Gillespie, explained that many of the steps that are being taken currently to keep customers and employees safe will continue in the fall.

Limited seating will be offered, with a configuration of six feet apart for each table. Customers are asked to stand six feet apart in line and wait outside if needed depending on how crowded the shop is. 

Tree City Coffee plans on participating in the designated outdoor refreshment area permit expected to be put into effect no later than July 15. 

“We are getting craft beer in, to include a keg and we will feature a hard to find craft beer…,” said Gillespie. “I am going to have house made sangrias as well.”

Gillespie explained since there are not going to be as many students on campus this fall, she hopes people will still come out and business will remain the same as previous years.

“I think with any business right now, we are all hoping to be the same,” said Gillespie. “I don’t know how the campus is really going to be in the end.”

Tree City Coffee & Pastry still plans on hiring students in the fall when they return to school.

“We are looking forward to students coming back, and we are here for them,” Gillespie said. 

Over Easy Morning Cafe:

Over Easy Morning Cafe owner, Shannon Zemba, explained the new Yelp Waitlist app that customers can request a table online remotely, and it will give a time for when the table is ready.

The cafe only seats six or fewer people at a table, there are six tables inside and four outside, all six feet apart. 

Zemba explained she already has some Kent State students working for her, and she plans on hiring more for the fall.

Items like syrup, butter, ketchup, hot sauce, salt and pepper are served in throw away containers or packets and then thrown away after they touch a table. 

“I think some people are slowly starting to come out again,” said Zemba. “I notice some weekends we are busier than when COVID first hit.”

Over Easy employees’ health is regularly monitored, and a checklist has been created to make sure all surfaces are being sanitized about every 10 minutes. 

“Communication is the biggest thing between everybody, just making sure everybody is staying on top of everything and doing what they are supposed to be doing,” Zemba said. 

Water Street Tavern:

Mike Beder, owner of Water Street Tavern and 2nd Vice President of Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, explained all changes that have been made due to Covid-19 will remain as long as mandates are in place. 

Water Street is now run like a traditional restaurant, when customers come in they sit down and a server will bring drinks to the table, rather than customers going up to the bar themselves.

“There is no waiting for drinks at the bar and we have not allowed seating at the bartop either,” Beder said. 

To comply with social distance regulations, there are about eight tables on the patio and around 15 on the main floor spaced six feet apart. 

Beder explained that he does not expect business to be the same this fall since the current social distance guidelines do not allow for typical business to be done safely and successfully.

“Our business model is most successful when we have some combination of three people deep at the bar, a line at the door, sports on the TV and a DJ or live music for entertainment,” Beder said. 


Gwen Rosenberg, owner of Popped! and Kent City Council member, explained the shop now has scaled back hours and plans on slowly expanding them depending on sales as students come back.

“I am looking forward to having the students back, Kent is really quiet without them,” Rosenberg said. 

Seating has also been removed from inside the shop, there is seating offered outside the shop as the weather permits. Popped also has a walkup window outside the shop and curbside is offered. 

“This is a really difficult time for business, our business for sure, we have had to cut hours and make some really hard decisions in an effort to keep the business going,” Rosenberg said. 

Rosenberg explained that she is ready to adapt to standards as time goes on and changes are made due to Covid-19.

“We’re here, and we are excited and are still making all our great products…,” said Rosenberg. “We’ve got some good stuff brewing for the rest of the year.”

Gina Schlegel covers downtown and construction. Contact her at [email protected]