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Persevering Through the Pandemic: Checking Back In With Cleveland’s Hooley House

The pandemic changed everything overnight. Here’s how Hooley House, a restaurant and bar based in Cleveland, Ohio, used facts – not fear – to adapt to the changes and succeed during the pandemic.

Meredith Cunningham Published: September 8, 2020

March 2020 was a challenging month for business owners everywhere. All over the country, drastic business decisions were made at a pace that made many business owners uneasy. Nobody knows that better than Richie Reece, Owner and Vice President of Hooley House, a restaurant and bar with four locations based in Cleveland, Ohio.

TEGNA first profiled Reece and Hooley House in April of this year.  He is still continuing to adapt and adjust to the flurry of changes that impact his business.   

“The last few months have been a real rollercoaster ride,” says Reese. “We were very quick to change in the beginning and all of the changes that we made had a huge impact on our business.”  

Those changes, assisted by WKYC (TEGNA’s affiliate in Cleveland) include a popular Bottoms Up campaign, in which customers could have access basic everyday essentials that were in short supply, such as toilet paper, paper towels, and bottled water.  

“The message and visual content in the Hooley House’s original commercial spot, providing scarce essentials showed the community that they understood Northeast Ohio’s immediate needs and concerns for necessity and comfort,” says Mary Alice Dreis, TEGNA Account Executive. “They were happy to help.” 

“We have actually had a lot of fun and have been re-energized in a lot of ways by creating new avenues and a bit of a new business plan. WKYC was a great avenue to get the word out.”  

Nearly six months after the launch of Hooley House’s campaign, Reece attributes positive sales results to WKYC’s proactive outreach, innovative strategies, and creative solutions. 

“Since we started working with WKYC and TEGNA, there are things that we’ve done in our restaurant based on some of the conversations we’ve had. We’ve changed our air filtration systems to the hospital-grade air filters and every single thing in our restaurant is touchless.”  

Reece adds, “We are now selling safety for people. They have to feel comfortable, or they’re not going to come out.” 

And Hooley House has done a great job of making its patrons feel safe, as Reese notes that sales are better than most of their industry counterparts. “In the state of Ohio, the majority of people are down 50 to 60 percent in sales from the prior year.” He then adds, “We have four locations. Our worst one is down 30 percent.”  

Dreis adds, “This campaign was so successful because the Hooley House embraced the challenging environment and found the opportunity to share their message of community, comfort, and safety to their audience, while really enjoying the experience.” 

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