When Covid-19 shut the city down in March and many of us stayed home, hospitality workers stayed on the frontlines and did their best to keep our local restaurants, retail establishments, hotels, attractions, and other business running. They greeted us from afar with a not-so-distant smile then, as businesses have started to reopen, have stayed optimistic and continued to provide the same reliable hospitality. To honor their work, we joined forces with BrewDog to honor these essential workers as we moved through various reopening phases in June, and are excited to share some of the hospitality heroes working extra hard during this global health crisis. If you see any of these individuals out in the community, please thank them!

Please note, some entries have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Anthony Austin

Baymont by Wyndham Columbus

Anthony embodies the welcoming Columbus spirit at the front desk and on the phone. He is patient and kind. He is definitely someone you would want greeting you upon entering a hotel.

Juliann Beatty

Residence Inn Polaris | StayBridge Suites Polaris

Juliann is a great cheerleader for her hotels in the Polaris area, and as the Director of Sales she has helped the hotels stay open and safe during this entire time of uncertainty. She touts the complimentary full hot breakfast buffet each morning (packaged breakfasts for the time being); the evening social including a light meal on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and the complimentary laundry facility. After chatting with her I want to go and stay-- even though I live in the area! How nice to have a safe place to stay that is continuing most of their services now that our nearby Columbus Zoo is opening soon.

Brad Bonacci

Ruth’s Chris

Brad is an advocate for our city. Always goes the extra mile. He understands hospitality, but more importantly, he understands people. During COVID-19 he continued to offer stellar customer service by using social media platforms to keep us engaged.

Meghan Bond

Local Cantina

Great bartender!

Kendra Bradley

Easton Guest Services

Kendra is always ready to help guests with a friendly word and her welcoming ways.

Michael Bridges

While not working due to Covid-19, he has been out protesting for social justice. He would never go for being recognized but I really think he needs to be recognized for his standing up for people in the minority communities, even if they aren’t Black. I salute him.

Lyndi Buckley

Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Lyndi makes home visits to young, first time moms-to-be throughout their pregnancy into the child's second year. It's been a challenge to continue this important role in the midst of the health crisis. However, she has remained constant in the lives of her patients in a virtual manner and with porch drop-offs. Lyndi is committed to mother/baby health and she shows it every day whether it be an in-person house call, or an electronic face-to-face.

Jennifer Bushby

The Kitchen

Jennifer and the whole team at The Kitchen have done an amazing job changing their whole business model to keep the business open and serve their community. The event center went from doing in-house events to creating take-home meal kits, to-go wine and beer sales, and other fun food-related things to do at home. Jennifer is a major part of the creative team and did so much to get the word out to make the changes a success. She deserves a toast!

Jaime Butcher

Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center

Jaime has been working tirelessly with over 80 brides and their families to work through their 2020 wedding plans in light of the pandemic and the ever-changing environment of the social gathering landscape and mandates. Jaime has offered creative solutions and flexible cancellation policies to work towards mutually beneficial solutions for all. Jaime has been a prominent voice in leading discussions regarding hospitality-oriented solutions for her fellow wedding planners and catering professionals in Columbus in conjunction with Columbus Wedding Planners and has been a true example in how to be gracious and flexible to work with during this difficult time. Thank you, Jaime, for being a shining star and providing hope through hospitality.


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Joel Cosme Jr.

Community Grounds

He's made an awesome community space, not only serving great coffee and food but being an integral part of the neighborhood. Going above and beyond to keep people safe at the same time as keeping his business going.

Doug Cuckler

Providing supplies and first aid from the garden at 5th and High to protesters as well as helping to raise funds for Columbus Freedom Fund

David Day

Lineage Brewing

We have been long-time loyal patrons of Lineage since they first opened and David has always provided personalized service to every individual that comes walking through the door. We know that he will continue to provide the best experience, even during these crazy times.

Scott Ellsworth

Three Above High | Fours on High

While trying to keep two bars open during a global pandemic is hard enough; Scott has still managed to go above and beyond to support the community throughout the past few months. At the same time he was trying to work through logistics of takeout/delivery for his own establishments, he also managed the process for t-shirt sales to support a group of campus bars, not just his own, and even after discontinuing takeout, still activated his team to provide meals for furloughed/laid off hospitality industry workers. As if all of that wasn't enough, when protesters recently took the streets, he opened his establishments for those needing restrooms, water or a place to take a break, without requiring any type of purchase. Throughout all of this, he has remained an industry leader at working to understand new guidelines and implement new rules, continuing to pivot his business model to meet requirements, and is always seeking ways to support and uplift the whole community.

Sara Flinchbaugh

Bru Burger

She provided great service and was very friendly and great at her job.

Greg Hall

Used Kids Records

Greg ensured his vinyl-loving customers had plenty of music, new and used, to listen to while stuck at home. He changed his retail platform to include curbside pickup and expanded his online shopping platform. Once some restrictions were lifted, he set up an appointment-style shopping experience for patrons to come into the store to browse for their favorite vinyls. Now that the store is back open, the staff wears masks and gloves, follows cleaning protocols and ensures the safety of its customers. Throughout this pandemic, Used Kids Records has continued to engage with their customers and support their community.

Mohammad Haider

Hilton Columbus Downtown

Mohammad is friendly, welcoming and truly cares about his guests. He strives to find out the most accurate information during the Covid-19 shutdown and the reopening processes, then uses the current restaurant and attraction information to make recommendations to guests. He doesn't want a guest to be disappointed by possibly going to an establishment that is closed due to shortened hours, etc.

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Jeff Heimberger

Coffee Connections Hilliard

Apart from having a great contactless pickup and order option, his team has been putting post it notes with positive messages on them that serve as a nice pick-me-up to through the day.

Michael Holtzleiter

Columbus Hospitality

Headed up our Columbus Hospitality Management Hope Through Hospitality Sunday Dinners effort, which provided meals for associates and their families every Sunday the month of April. Michael planned, prepared and provided food to associates who were placed in layoff status every week. Through his leadership, we were able to provide meals to over 240 associates totaling 960 meals. Michael truly has a servant's heart and always answers the call when team members are in need. He is priceless and we are thankful to have Michael as a key leader in our Columbus Hospitality Family!

Michael Lincoln (Linc)

Staybridge Suites Columbus Airport

He is a great guy who always helps everyone out at our hotel and the guests all love him!!

Berlyn Martin

Wedding Planner

Berlyn has been an incredible advocate for the weddings and events industry during COVID-19. The past couple of weeks especially, she has been the lead in calling on the Governor to create a task force for events and creating www.ohioeventsafety.com along with a petition. Due to this effort, we got a small amount of information of wedding receptions this week and hopefully more to come. I doubt this would have been possible without Berlyn leading the way!

Raj Patel

Huffman's Market

The new owner Raj and the experienced staff kept me supplied with groceries and household goods when other, larger stores failed. I’m 76 years old and didn’t want to risk my life and health by going to a store in person, even during “senior hours.” So when the lockdown began, I thought I could just get what I needed by pickup from the big supermarket where I usually shopped. Nope. I submitted my list, only to discover that there were no pickup times available for the next 10 days. OK. Delivery. Nope. Same problem. No delivery times available. I waited a week and tried again. Same outcome. Getting desperate, I checked out the website of Huffman’s, my little neighborhood market. Bingo! I submitted my list, got a call back, and my pickup was ready in just two days. I was saved! As the lockdown continued, the big supermarket continued to put me off. Huffman’s got my pickup down to same day. So congratulations to the team at this wonderful, community-oriented grocery store!

Bill Plank

Planks on Broadway

Bill has worked almost every day through the pandemic making sure we are open for take-out service and his staff is still employed. While working, he has also remodeled parts of the restaurant and reconfigured the patio for social distancing compliance. Bill is dedicated to his staff, his patrons and his business. We as staff members appreciate his dedication to keeping the business open during this difficult time and keeping us employed.

Diana Rhoden

Hyatt Regency Columbus

Dianna has been coming to work and doing what she does best for 20+ years. While business might be uncertain, she's always there when we call. Thank you Dianna! We appreciate you and the clean and safe environment you provide for our guests. 

TJ Tate

Fairfield Inn & Suites Columbus East

TJ is our GM but has been stripping rooms, doing laundry, making breakfast bags, cleaning public areas, front desk and still handling GM responsibilities. She works 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week and will still respond to texts or come in on her day off. She has been a great example for us all.

Darcy Warden

Wedding Planner

Darcy is new to the Columbus hospitality community but hasn't let this pandemic slow her down. She has been doing virtual learning and keeping up to date on everything in the wedding and events industry, and hasn't once been discouraged that things are delayed or moving slowly, instead just shifting to something else while she waits. She's done everything possible to make sure she's ready to hit the ground running as soon as soon as mass gatherings are ready to resume.

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Virginia West

Drag Performer

Virginia does virtual drag shows that enable our talented Columbus queens to perform and patrons to support and tip them.

Find out how else the community is living forward: