While many Ohio University students spent their summers working internships and relaxing in their hometowns, Athens restaurants were busy renovating, changing and preparing for students to return to campus.
West Union Street gained a parklet after Union Street Diner opened one in July. Court Street saw the creation of El Tenampa in April, and Bagel Street Deli underwent construction for an expansion that opened Friday.
Union Street Diner
Union Street Diner, 70 W. Union St., is well-known for its long hours. Though it used to have 24-hour service, it’s currently open from 8 am. to 11 p.m.
Jay Shapiro, co-owner of Union Street Diner, said the restaurant got the idea for a parklet from Brenen’s Coffee Cafe, 38 S. Court St.
“(It) seemed like a lot of people really liked the idea of outside seating, especially during the COVID,” Shapiro said. “The city just never let us do anything … They didn’t want us to put any chairs on the sidewalk … We saw there was another option as the parklet idea came about.”
The parklet was shipped to the diner in parts to be assembled, Shapiro said. It took three to four weeks to build and install the parklet. During the winter months, Shapiro said restaurant staff will have to take the parklet apart to be reinstalled some time in March.
The parklet opened to the public mid-July.
“We try to use it every day it doesn't rain,” Shapiro said. “A lot of people like it, and it gives a lot of people another option to just sit outside.”
Located at 21 S. Court St., El Tenampa is a Mexican restaurant and bar that opened in April.
David Gonzalez, manager of El Tenampa, said the restaurant closed for a brief period of time due to trouble obtaining a liquor license. OU students arriving on campus have also helped the business.
The menu has lunch and dinner options, including quesadillas and enchiladas around $7 and fajitas for around $10 to $15. There are several appetizer and drink options as well.
“In this town, we have Chinese and American food and Italian food … so I think it's good to try something new,” Gonzalez said. “Try some different drinks, too, like the margaritas.”
El Tenampa hopes to keep growing and expanding, although Gonzalez said there hasn’t been plans made for the future yet.
“I want to invite everyone, every peoples, who wants to or who lives around here to come visit us and see the place,” Gonzalez said. “If they like it, that's gonna make us feel better.”
Bagel Street Deli
Established in 1993 and known for its Pickle Eating Fests is Bagel Street Deli. The bagel sandwich shop, 27 S. Court St., has been renovating the business all summer.
“In the middle of February is when we bought and began the renovation,” Megan Meyer, co-owner of Bagel Street Deli, said. “Our goal was middle of August. We did overshoot that by a couple weeks, but we feel like — with the COVID climate and everything being delayed and all of that — really we did a pretty good job.”
According to a previous Post report, Bagel Street Deli initially bought the building that previously housed Mountain Laurel Gifts with a goal of keeping the restaurant’s original charm. Meyer said restoring the bricks of the old building was important, as it tried to keep the restaurant similar on both sides.
The restaurant now boasts two kitchens, two eating spaces and a new bathroom connected by three interior walkthroughs. While Meyer said it plans to use both spaces for customers, they will eventually transition to have one side for ordering and catering.
“We don't really want to change what we do, but we just want to do more and develop more,” Meyer said. “We have a pretty decent catering requests … I'd like to, at some point, increase where we're able to do something for 100 people. That's hard for us in the kitchen that we had, so that would be our goal in the future.”
Additionally, Meyer said Bagel Street Deli hopes to expand its food options, especially its salads and soups. They hope to utilize the deli case to display new food items, including applesauce and yogurt for children.
“We've always served salads, but we've never had the room to expand the vision of them,” Meyer said. “We have a deli case out of there. That's going to display salads on the bottom … we're now selling our cream cheeses that we make in-house and our hummus that we make in-house.”
After about six months of renovation, Bagel Street Deli opened its new space Friday morning with limited indoor seating. Meyer said it plans to have full capacity seating at some point in the future.
“We are thrilled to show the community the updates we have made so far and encourage everyone to keep their eye on more changes to come!” Meyer said in an email.