Report: Over 47% of Ohio restaurants closed — and rising

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COLUMBUS – The Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) conducted a statewide poll on the health of restaurants all over Ohio to gauge the effects of COVID-19 on the industry, and the results are sobering.

Ohio’s restaurant owners and managers are deeply concerned about employee layoffs, access to government relief and the risk they will need to sell assets to survive.

The survey was conducted over the course of three days (March 22-24) and references information from restaurants’ business week of March 8-14. The date range signals that many restaurants reported their results prior to the full suspension of dine-in and alcohol sales.

ORA predicts future survey outcomes will be considerably more severe.

“As the voice of Ohio’s restaurant community, we want to help elected officials and community leaders fully understand the negative impact this health crisis is having on Ohio’s restaurant industry,” said John Barker, president and CEO of the ORA. “These survey results are staggering, and we are doing everything we can to advocate for relief and to ease the hardships Ohio restaurants are facing during this terribly difficult time.”

Key findings (out of 308 total respondents) of the first week of survey results include:

• 47 percent have closed restaurant locations.

• 229 respondents are offering carry-out, drive-thru or delivery service during this time.

• 44 percent of respondents saw their year-over-year sales for the week (March 8-14) decrease by 20-50 percent.

• 30 percent of respondents are seeing weekly and monthly year-over-year sales decline by 20-50 percent.

There were a few initial bright spots, which may not be sustainable. Those restaurants that could quickly adapt to carry-out or delivery, or that already had strong out-of-restaurant programs in place, saw modest increases in the first week:

• 27 percent are seeing same store sales increase by 5-20 percent.

• Nearly 30 percent of respondents saw sales remain flat or increase up to 20 percent.

• 4 percent of respondents saw sales increase by more than 20 percent.

When asked how Ohio restaurants are working within their local communities during the pandemic, respondents reported:

• Giving back to the community through offering a percentage of sales to charities, products to food banks, supporting essential workers through discounts and donated meals, and switching to hand sanitizer production;

• Increasing generosity of customers offering tips to employees;

• Using restaurant space for Red Cross blood drives, food donation centers and temporary housing for first responders; and

• Working together to sell apparel, setup financial support campaigns, and offer online content in exchange for tips.

Ongoing concerns for respondents include significant employee layoffs, lack of materials to keep employees healthy and safe, and access to sufficient government aid. Restaurants also report that while they limited their hours and menu options, they don’t believe the carryout model will sustain them for much longer.

In addition, the National Restaurant Association surveyed 4,000 restaurant owners and operators across the country and revealed the devastating economic losses due to COVID-19 in this infographic.

For more information, visit

513.317.7024 Restaurant Association

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