How Gervasi Set Itself Up to Weather the COVID storm

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic threw Ohio-based Gervasi Vineyard a curveball. 

When you’re a destination winery and resort, the last thing you want to encounter is a pandemic that leads state and local governments to encourage people to stay home by limiting the extent to which businesses can operate.

“On March 16, 2020, Ohio shut down, and that was our 10-year anniversary day,” General Manager Scott Swaldo recalled. “It was supposed to be one of our biggest days, and instead, it was one of our worst.” 

With nowhere to go but up from that nadir, Gervasi’s expansive grounds contributed to its ability to adapt. With 55 acres connected to a county park system, the winery and restaurants could attract customers easily and encourage them to stay safely outside. It facilitated the resort’s abilities to adhere to best practices rather than merely meeting occupancy and social distancing requirements.

With growing concerns about the delta variant of COVID-19 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging people to take certain precautions, Gervasi Vineyard’s decision last summer to develop its ability to serve customers outdoors may prove to be a feather in its cap.

Gervasi’s outdoor dining venue now has the ability to seat 300 people outdoors, up from 80 before the improvements.

“We spent approximately $400,000 over this past fall and winter to expand our outdoor dining venue, The Piazza,” said owner Ted Swaldo.  

Realizing in summer of 2020 during the pandemic that many people would have dinner outside but were reluctant to dine inside, Gervasi’s ownership wasted no time adapting. 

“Not knowing when the pandemic would end we decided to drastically expand our outdoor seating to accommodate future need,” Ted Swaldo said. “We wanted to make the outside dining experience special for our customers.” 

They added a covered band stand, an improved sound system and an outdoor bar, and their customers have loved the improvements

“Adding the permanent covered bar allows us to now offer full bar service,” Ted Swaldo said. “It used to be just wine and beer. We have also invested in two, 25’ X 25’ custom made red umbrellas that were made in Italy. It has been a huge success.”

Photos courtesy of Gervasi Vineyard

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