Huge jump in unemployment claims as restaurants lay off employees due to coronavirus pandemic


WEST CARROLLTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Numbers from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services are showing just how much the coronavirus is having an impact on people’s livelihoods.

For the first three days of this week, the department received 77,817 applications for unemployment applications compared to last week’s number during that same three day period, which was only 2,905.

Employees in the restaurant business are some of those affected.

El Meson in West Carrollton is still serving authentic Spanish dishes but not in their restaurant that seats up to 450 people.

They are serving lunch and dinner out of their food truck, doing curbside pickup, and Door Dash but the owner, Bill Castro, said they’ve had to let ninety percent of their employees go because there just isn’t enough business to sustain that many people working.

“We’re celebrating 42 years as a family restaurant,” said Castro. “I’d like to think that we have been geared to be quick on our feet to be in business this long but never have we had this type of challenge. We can only survive for a very short time doing this, we understand people are buying groceries, they’re hunkering down at home. We’re doing everything we can to try and stay ahead.”

Castro said they had a staff of about 40 employees but in the past few days following Governor Mike DeWine’s order for all restaurants to close indoor dining, they’ve had to let go about 90 percent of them. But he said those that continue to work at El Meson will still feel the impact.

“We have shared some hours between staff, between maintenance staff to preparation staff,” said Castro. “We had shifts that were eight, ten, twelve hours long. Now we’re sharing shifts that are four hours long, from 4 to 7 p.m.”

Castro said they are encouraging their employees to file for unemployment as are many other businesses.

In fact the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services told 2 NEWS they received over 29,000 claims just Tuesday.

Castro said at El Meson, they’re offering a family dinner that feeds four and is seeing some success with that. He said many of the customers they’ve been getting this week are those that have been coming for years and are supporting his business both financially and emotionally.

One of those customers is Lis Mooers. Mooers said she was picking up lunch Wednesday afternoon for her grandfather who is staying inside, but they know how important it is to show support to their favorite restaurant.

“Since I can’t bring him here, I’m bringing them to him,” said Mooers. “Just because we still want to support them, it’s very important to us that we support the Castro family because we’ve been coming here since they were serving pizza and we love it.”

Castro said they’re trying to stay ahead but know that even when they’re allowed to reopen, it won’t be the same.

“How do we start again from here,” asked Castro. “Say we open again in five months, these employees maybe have moved on. Our whole lives are going to be changed based on this.”

Castro also told 2 NEWS that they are worried that staying open might hurt them in the long run if assistance is denied because they made some sales.

He also said that they, along with many other restaurants they’ve talked to, are being told by their insurance companies that the business interruption insurance they have will not cover their closure because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Castro said they still don’t know what the new normal will be when they’re allowed to reopen because restaurants as a whole will be feeling this for months to come.

El Meson is located at 903 E. Dixie Dr. in West Carrollton, and is open from 11-7 for lunch and dinner, and can be reached at 937-859-8229.

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