Just over half of Ohio’s restaurants tell their main lobby group they don’t think they’ll be able to break even this year. They say business has not fully rebounded to levels it experienced before the COVID-19 pandemic, and they don’t know when that might happen.
The federal government made money available to restaurants last year. But John Barker, president and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association, says only a small percentage of restaurants in the state that have applied for federal revitalization funds have actually received that money.
“In Ohio, only 2,844 of 8,228 applications were approved and funded,” Barker said.
Meanwhile, restaurant owners say the costs of food and supplies are on the rise, and a shortage of employees is driving up the cost of doing business as well. Chris Crader, co-owner of GROW, the company that owns the Harvest Pizzaria chain, says the cost of goods and labor has increased by 25% each since the start of the pandemic.
“I can’t increase pizza prices by 50%. You would think I was crazy if I tried to charge $ 30 for a 12 inch pizza,” he said.
Crader says the problem is compounded by the fact that restaurants that got federal funds have now placed businesses like his that lacked at a competitive disadvantage.
Barker calls on Congress to replenish these restaurant revitalization funds. And he urges local governments to permanently extend outdoor dining permits. When it comes to the public, restaurant professionals say it’s important for Ohioans to continue ordering food and visiting their local restaurants because they need the business more than ever.
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