Outlook for Ohio’s Restaurant Industry Growing Dimmer

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two-thirds of Ohio’s restaurant owners and operators say their businesses are operating at 60% capacity or less, according to a survey by the Ohio Restaurant Association, and another 60% feel they will be forced to permanently close within six months if they do not receive additional government support.

The trade group’s latest poll of the industry reveals numbers that are as bad as they have been at any point during the pandemic, if not worse.

“Just when we thought the restaurant industry couldn’t be hit any harder, sales are crashing significantly compared to previous weeks,” said President and CEO John Barker in a statement.

The survey was conducted Dec. 4 through 7 and references information from Ohio restaurants’ from Nov. 23 to Dec. 6.

Three-quarters of the survey’s respondents reported sales dropping more than 20% versus a year ago, including 13% who’ve seen sales drop more than 70%, and a quarter of respondents who’ve seen sales drop between 50% and 70%. 

“The stay-at-home advisories issued in seven counties, as well as the statewide curfew, have caused a severe downturn in traffic and customer counts,” Barker said. “Ohio’s restaurants cannot wait for additional government relief any longer.”

For months, Congress has been in a political tug-of-war over a second coronavirus relief package. The ORA, along with the National Restaurant Association and owners and operators nationwide, is calling on Congress to make a “down payment” on a relief plan before leaving office for the year.  

Nationally, the National Restaurant Association is reporting that 110,000 restaurants have closed, with 52% of shuttered restaurant owners saying they will not return to the industry. On average, restaurants that are now permanently closed had been in business for 16 years. Additionally, 58% of chain and independent full-service operators expect continued furloughs and layoffs for at least the next three months.

The ORA recently sent a letter to Congress to request it address a federal relief bill and passage of targeted proposals.

“Our specific ask of Congress includes a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program with a 20% revenue loss threshold, similar caps at the first round and consideration for businesses opened during 2020,” said Barker. “PPP would enable many small businesses and restaurants to survive the winter and keep employees on the payroll, which is critical considering 585,000 work in the foodservice industry in Ohio.”

Image via Life Of Pix from Pexels

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.