“We were both working at The Ohio Grille when the previous owners approached us about buying the place.
We were thinking that this was probably just a pipe dream. My business partner, Tyler Barrett, has had a very deep love of food for as long as I’ve known him. He’s a culinary genius, in my opinion. I have not met someone more dedicated to food and he has such a passion for it.
So, while I knew he would love to own a restaurant, we didn’t think we could actually afford to buy a restaurant. He had a family. I had just gotten hired into the technology department at a local school and didn’t have the funds available. So, we just laughed it off.
It ended up taking us a while, but we got a loan from the bank. Our first day as co-owners was December 16, 2019. Which meant we had a couple months before lockdown started with the pandemic. It definitely was not smooth sailing. However, we’ve been very blessed by the community in terms of the support they’ve given us.
Besides the pandemic, we actually ran into quite a few problems in 2020. Tyler hurt his foot and he couldn’t walk for a full month or more. He could do things like making the schedules, but he wasn’t actually in the restaurant working, which was a big setback. Our other managers really stepped up during that time and filled the void.
Then we had a number of equipment issues over the year with things breaking down. We had to fix both of our fryers. We had the temperature gauge on our grill go out. The freezer died on us and we had a compressor go bad in our main cooler. We have definitely had our struggles.
Despite all that, I can’t speak highly enough for our community. They have really embraced us and right now, we can hardly keep up with the demand.
There are some nights, particularly Friday nights, where sometimes we can’t always get to the phone, because we have so many people coming in, and so many web orders coming through.
It’s been kind of surreal…but awesome.”
“When the lockdown first started, we went takeout only during the first two weeks. It was absolutely terrifying. We didn’t know what to do. Our sales went down. We didn’t have our regular customers. Almost daily I would be out in the dining room where we have a few TVs just watching Governor DeWine at two o’clock every day, trying to figure out what was next. We reached out to our landlord to see what we could do about rent if we didn’t have sales.
I remember thinking, ‘Are we going to have to close?’ So, those two weeks were terrifying. We had to lay off pretty much all of our staff and it was frustrating because we didn’t have any answers for them.
At that point, it was literally just Tyler and I working the restaurant. Open to close, just the two of us. It was like that for probably about a month. It got to the point where we thought, let’s give it one more week and see what happens.
Luckily, that next week, it was like a switch turned on and it went from being really scary to picking up. It was like that for about two weeks and got to a point where we couldn’t handle it anymore by ourselves, so we brought our managers back. Then slowly, after another couple of weeks it started really picking up again and we started bringing everyone back.
It really helped that we live in a small town. Because of the pandemic, I think a lot of people were avoiding going to the larger cities where they normally went to eat. That actually benefited us quite a bit, I believe.
We’re really proud of our crew after all of that and toughing it out with us. We’ve had to evolve so much because of that time. Tyler has expanded the menu as well. Before, we were a burger joint, if you will. But now, we have the bourbon chicken salad, stir fry, salmon, and lots of other stuff. It’s just been a wild ride, but that is why we went into it in the first place.”
“I went back to help Tyler because I have a lot of respect for him. This was also Tyler’s lifeblood, and how he supports his family and I wanted to help support that. Another reason is that I believe in the restaurant and have faith in our concept. The last reason is because of my dad. He was an ironworker and he raised my sister and I to practice that whenever you do something, you give 110%. That was his philosophy.
When I started working at my first job at McDonald’s, he taught me that it doesn’t matter if you’re flipping burgers, you give 110%. You can still be proud of what you’re doing. I take that to heart now. When we bought the restaurant and I became an owner, I wanted to be proud of my work and give that same 110%. Even when things got hard, I stuck with it. That’s just the morals I was raised with.
The pandemic highlighted many things for us, especially during those first two months. It made us think through things when it was just the two of us. We would talk about weighing our options and determining what’s next. A saying we used during that time, and we even use it today when something goes wrong, is that failure is not an option. We just have to figure it out.
That goes for multiple things, whether it’s a pandemic or like how one time we ran out of ice cream in the middle of our dinner rush. So, I ran to the store and picked up more ice cream. We figured it out and kept kind of pressing forward.”
“I can pretty much fill in all the positions at the restaurant, but primarily I work in the front of the house, because I’m good with talking to people. I’m very much an extrovert. Tyler is there day in and day out, running the restaurant, making sure we have everything we need and he is the creative genius behind our food.
When I worked at McDonald’s, I was so happy to be in a job that paid me to be around people. I had such a good first impression working in the fast-paced food industry, that’s one of the things that has led to me sticking around.
When Tyler is in the heat of the moment in the kitchen, sometimes he might shoot me a text message and say, ‘Hey, can you check into this’” Say, for instance, our online ordering is not depicting quite right on the website or something like that. That’s when my skillset kicks in from being in IT.
I also try to be in the dining room when we take the food out to the customers. I’m always stopping around the tables, checking in on how everything is tasting. We have what I call the one-or-two-bite rule. That’s when the customer has had a second with the food and taken the first bite. I like to check in and make sure everything is ok with their order right about then. I believe if something is not quite right, a lot of times the customers will keep it to themselves and not say anything.
Where if there’s a problem, they’re more likely to tell me in that instance and I can fix it. Then they leave the restaurant a lot more satisfied. Accidents or mistakes can happen, especially in a fast-paced environment. What we don’t want is them leaving a review if there is something we could have done to make it right. I’m ultimately the face of the restaurant to make sure that we get anything that isn’t perfect, corrected.
I think that is one of the things that plays to our advantage, along with us being in a small community. Everyone has seen it in movies where people say that everyone knows everyone in this town. That aspect has worked well for us, I think.
When we took over, people would say they heard that ‘Tyler and Mitchell bought the restaurant.’ Then they told people, or had our food and told others. I think that is how it started and it has just kind of spread like crazy from there.
We do also use Facebook quite a bit and Tyler will often post the daily specials or promote our new items. Oftentimes the crew will share it and that has helped us gain more visibility through word of mouth. It all happened pretty organically.
One of our biggest questions right now is, ‘what’s next?’ We’re very new to this still and this is our first business. Then you have the pandemic on top of it, and we are coming out of it on a very strong foothold, which is awesome.
—Mitchell Ryan Galliher, Co-owner, The Ohio Grille
Carrollton, Carroll County