Poll: More than 50 percent of Ohio restaurants could close within 9 months


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio Restaurant Association has released a new poll of its members showing the growing impact the coronavirus is having on the industry.

According to the latest numbers, 54 percent of restaurants believe they will have to close permanently in the next nine months if operating at their current capacity.

That number was a 23 perent increase from the week prior.

“Fifty-four percent of restaurants in the state of Ohio – that’s equivalent to 12,420 restaurants. So that’s a megawatt number,” said John Barker, president & CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association. “That means we have 310,000 employees at risk. That would be over half the industry and this is the second biggest employer in the state.”

Dave’s Cosmic Subs opened near The Ohio State University campus in September. Co-owner Derek Meduri said things were going well into mid-March.

“Our sales dropped definitely more than half in the beginning. Then we saw a little bump with everyone else closing down and we were able to stay open for carry out,” Meduri said.

Their dining room has been completely cleared out, serving now just as space for socially-distanced carry-out orders.

With OSU students returning to campus, Meduri hopes to see a return of business as well.

“I think that’ll help give us a bump in business and keep us afloat for the time being and just try to swim out,” Meduri said. “There’s a lot of stuff you can’t foresee as a new business owner and then when you add a global pandemic into it, you just really don’t know how to account for that. So you just kind of got to roll with the punches and make the changes and adapt.” 

The ORA’s poll also found 83 percent of restaurants don’t believe they will break even this year, even with the “Dine Safe Ohio” protocols.

“It limits the capacity in restaurants,” Barker said. “I think as we move through the summer, restaurant doors are starting to look out to the fall where maybe they can’t do as much outside dining, that type of thing, on patios and business kind of tightens up anyway and they’re getting worried.”

For some, it’s more than just worry – it’s a financial disaster.

“They’re making no money, sales are down but guess what’s still due? All their rent is due. All their taxes are so. All those expenses that don’t go away,” Barker said.

The ORA has established a fund to help out businesses across the state, but it has also been talking to lawmakers in Washington.

The group is pushing for the next coronavirus relief bill to have some sort of funding to help protect the industry and its employees.

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