Like so many local restaurateurs during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Sang Lakhani has been walking a high wire without a net.

Editor's note: In the wake of Gov. Mike DeWine's March 15 order to close Ohio's bars and restaurants to diners because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, restaurants still were able to operate via carryout service and delivery. Check ThisWeekNEWS.com for updates about any new restrictions during the pandemic.

Like so many local restaurateurs during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Sang Lakhani has been walking a high wire without a net.

The Table, 21 E. Fifth Ave. in Columbus' Italian Village, owned by Lakhani and business partner Jennifer Marlatt, has been trying to keep a skeleton staff employed, use up inventory and remind customers the restaurant is open for carryout and delivery.

"It's tough to get customers to order carryout or order delivery, especially when they're told to stay home and virtually everything else is closed," Lakhani said.

On March 15, Gov. Mike DeWine issued an order that all restaurants and bars were to close to dine-in customers by 9 p.m. that evening, but they could remain open for carryout and delivery services.

The Table has been offering $25 dinners for two or $50 dinners for four, complete with cookies and soup from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Those who ordered off the brunch menu, which costs $15 for two and $30 for four, could pick up those meals at 4 p.m. Fridays and 5 to 8 p.m. Saturdays.

The menu has changed weekly, she said.

Lakhani said the service has been a bargain for customers, but it also has kept the remaining staff busy and the bills paid.

"We're doing it just to be able to make payroll," she said. "We only work with small farmers, so we want to pay our small farmers.

"I'm just doing what I can so it keeps our minds and hands busy. We're used to working. It keeps us positive. It keeps us hopeful."

In addition, the restaurant has started selling groceries, such as eggs, rice and butter. Flour and sugar were available, as well as wine, beer and some cleaning supplies, Lakhani said.

"And those are things we can keep getting in," she said.

Other restaurants have remained operational in similar ways, and customers have not had to look far to find price breaks on meals:

* For the first time in its history, the Refectory has been offering a limited carryout menu, something it had spurned in the past.

"Obviously, the goal is to keep a few people on staff employed: our chef, sous chef and a few other keep people, the manager and sommelier," said Kamal Boulos, owner of the fine-dining French restaurant at 1092 Bethel Road in northwest Columbus.

The savings can be exceptional; for example, the lamb, priced at $46 on the regular menu was $35 to go.

The food is packed carefully, with sauce on the side, and provided with explicit heating instructions, Boulos said.

* All six local Condado Tacos restaurants have offered a $10 "bud box," with a choice of two tacos from a suggested menu, a half-size traditional guacamole or queso blanco and chips.

Orders must be placed at condadotacos.com/order-online for express curbside delivery, owner Joe Kahn said.

Kahn said it was a savings of about $3, but it was more than just a good price.

"It's a little break from the reality of the world we're living in right now. We're all taking a big loss. The big objective is to provide this service so we can feed people."

* Ruth's Chris Steak House has been taking 25% off all orders of $75 or more when placed by phone at the restaurant, 511 N. High St. in Columbus.

* Local Cantina and its family of restaurants, which include South Village Grille and Jonys Sushi, have been taking 10% off of all online orders.

Erin Weishuhn, assistant general manager at South Village Grille, 197 Thurman Ave. in German Village, said part of the issue has been reminding residents that some restaurants still are open.

The Local Cantina restaurant group was aggressive in its use of social media to promote carryout and delivery orders, Weishuhn said.

"We're getting pretty good dinner rushes," she said, but "we definitely aren't making the sales we normally make."

Despite the challenges for her restaurant and others in central Ohio, Lakhani said, staying open and reminding customers they can come in and buy food have had enormous public-relations value.

"We're restaurants," she said. "There are a million of them opening every day."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary