Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s statewide mandate issued Sunday, which has banned onsite consumption of food and drinks at bars and restaurants, has already taken its toll on business owners around the state. While many restaurants will continue to offer on-the-go services during the pandemic, that business represents just a fraction of the revenue these businesses bring in monthly.
“I’m aware that this will impact many, many good workers. I can’t tell you how sorry I am, but we will work to mitigate the suffering,” DeWine said during his announcement Sunday. “It is our goal for everyone to get through this. Every day we delay, more people will die. If we do not act and get some distance between people, our healthcare system in Ohio will not hold up. The loss won’t only be those impacted by coronavirus, but the danger is also to everyone else who needs hospital care for other issues.”
Changes, particularly in staffing, are inevitable given the financial hardships that are coming to businesses like many of the restaurants that make downtown Delaware a destination for locals and visitors alike. For Son of Thurman owner Chris DeVol, who said he does 96% of his business through onsite customers, that has meant furloughing all employees indefinitely.
“That’s the tragedy,” DeVol said of the unpaid time off for employees. “There are no provisions for them. People can talk about unemployment all they want, but for servers, that means nothing … This is going to be devastating.”
During the shutdown, Son of Thurman will continue to offer carryout orders, which can be done over the phone. DeVol said the restaurant will also offer delivery services. It remains to be seen how long his business — and so many more around the community and state — will be relegated to takeout sales only. However long it takes, DeVol said his hand was forced by the mandate to ensure there is even a business for employees to return to when the government allows for their reopening.
“We still have to protect the business so that it’s still here when this ends,” DeVol said. “But there’s been zero guidance as far as how long it may take.”
Like Son of Thurman and most other restaurants, Bun’s Restaurant does upwards of 95% of its business via in-house customers. Owner Vasili Konstantindis said his restaurant will continue to fill carryout orders while waiting to see what will happen moving forward.
“What do you want me to say,” Konstantindis asked The Gazette. “I’m worried just like everyone else is worried.”
As for staffing, Konstantindis said he has already had to make changes, although he did not specify what those changes were. He said he shares the worries of his employees, but given the looming uncertainties, he can’t make promises on anything or to anyone when nobody can make any promises to him and his business.
Tiffanie Cook said she has already had to lay off 75% of her staff at Hamburger Inn, keeping just one cook, one server, and one manager.
“We’re down substantially,” Cook said. “I haven’t even run the full figures yet … We were down several thousand dollars just from yesterday (Monday).”
Like others, Hamburger Inn will continue to offer to-go services from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. She said customers can have their orders brought to them via curbside pickup, either by parking in front of the restaurant on Sandusky Street or in the parking lot behind the restaurant.
Cook said she is also looking into having her employees deliver food, which she said would allow for the Hamburger Inn staff to control the quality of food while being delivered. In addition to ensuring top quality when the food arrives to the customer, Cook said delivery services would also allow for more employees to be put to work.
Like DeVol, Cook pointed out that servers filing for unemployment would mean very little, given their low wages. Because of that, Cook said she implores customers to continue to support servers by tipping them even on orders to go. Cook said the same amount of work is being done to prepare those orders for customers, sometimes even more so than if the customers were dining in.