Ohio Restaurants Lost $700 Million in Sales in March Due to Coronavirus, 10% Foresee Closing Permanently in April

In just the first three weeks of March, Ohio restaurants lost $698 million in sales and laid off more than 100,000 employees

click to enlarge Ohio Restaurants Lost $700 Million in Sales in March Due to Coronavirus, 10% Foresee Closing Permanently in April
Photo: Tim Mossholder

The numbers are somehow even more grisly than one might expect.

In just the first three weeks of March, Ohio restaurants lost $698 million in sales and laid off more than 100,000 employees, according to a report from the Ohio Restaurant Association in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association. 

And as the coronavirus pandemic inflicts severe financial damage across the industry, torpedoing businesses large and small that did nothing to invite the pain, the numbers are only going to get worse. The same report said that about 10 percent of restaurants that made it through March forecasted they will have to close permanently in the next month while others who have adapted to take-out and delivery-only operations struggle to stay open on slimmer than usual profit margins.

Locally, on March 21, Jean-François Flechet of Taste of Belgium, Bob Deck of 4EG, Cristian Pietoso of Via Vite/Forno Osteria and Britney Ruby Miller of Jeff Ruby's joined together at a press conference to lobby for a $225 billion national bailout for the restaurant industry. 

And while help may be on the horizon with county, state and federal assistance, for many restaurants, the damage has already been done, with years and decades of work being undone in a matter of weeks.

As the crisis stretches on and the state's stay-home order likely lasting into mid-spring, operations that had fought to keep the doors open and employees on payroll so far are now looking at some hard numbers as they ponder whether or not, based on financials and health reasons, to keep going and whether to re-up from suppliers and wholesalers. For example, restaurants like Branch, Pepp & Dolores and Jeff Ruby's locations have decided to temporarily shutter until further notice. The second wave of closures, temporary or otherwise, will continue from here.

According to the Ohio Restaurant Association Facebook page, "Ohio Restaurant Association Poll Reveals Staggering and Widespread Industry Impact of COVID-19: More than 47% of Ohio Restaurants Closing Locations Indefinitely."

And some think the percentages will be worse than that.

Remember to support your local restaurant with takeout or delivery business. Our running list of options can be found here.