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80% of Ohio restaurants don't expect to break even in 2020 amid the ongoing pandemic, survey says

Local restaurants are the heart of our communities, but COVID-19 has caused that to change.

OHIO, USA — A new survey by the Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) is shedding light on continuous struggles restaurants are facing amid the ongoing Coronvirus pandemic.

Since the pandemic began and preventative health regulations were put in place to slow the spread of the disease, the ORA has been monitoring the impact the precautions are having on the industry. 

In a "business impact" poll completed by restaurant owners and operators referencing information from August 17 through August 30, 80 percent of Ohio restaurants are not expecting to break even in 2020 under the current restrictions.

John Barker, President and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association says this is a scary time for some restaurant owners.

“This year is really going to hurt people a lot and part of it is because the sales aren’t there,” said Barker. “Restaurants where you sit down and someone takes care of you and there's a staff and there's a thing that happens when you go there, that makes it special...they are really hurting."

Barker says the Paycheck Protection Program through the federal government provided a life-line for thousands of restaurants. However, the money has run out and the Association is advocating for another round.

“In that poll roughly around 50 percent of the operators said if conditions stay the way they are today, they don't think they can survive in 2021."

We went to WKYC Food correspondent Doug Trattner for more perspective. He says restaurants are only making about 5 to 10 percent profit margin when business is going well. Now, they are limited by a cap on capacity.

"I talk to restaurant owners every day and they are not complainers,” said Trattner. "They are scared about what's going to happen next coming into fall and winter."

So, what's next as we move toward the winter months? The ORA is working to create outside dining, which includes creating igloos or enclosed patios. Barker says, for some it could mean 5 or 10 more tables but it could be the difference between surviving and closing down.

However, it is not all bad. Seven percent of restaurants are seeing their year-over-year sales increasing by 20-50%.

And 3News is looking to highlight some of your favorite local restaurants. Text us your recommendations to 216-344-3300 or leave in the comment section of this story on our Facebook page.

Check out a list of additional findings from the survey below: 

  • 8% of restaurants are seeing their year-over-year sales declining by more than 70%
  • 70% of restaurants have brought back 50-100% of their pre-COVID FTEs.
  • The majority of respondent restaurants at 82% are selling to-go cocktails.
  • 14% of business owners say their business after 10.p.m. has dropped by 75% or more.

For more information on the Ohio Restaurant Association and their research, click here