Fare Share: Restaurant industry counting on #DineSafeAcrossOhio

John Barker
Guest columnist

There’s a blue wave coming for restaurant owners and operators, but it has nothing to do with an election and everything to do with cold winter weather.

With temperatures dropping, so are the numbers of thriving eating and drinking establishments across Ohio, which included more than 23,000 before the pandemic. Very soon, your local restaurants' hosts and servers might not be asking only if you want nachos or bacon-wrapped dates for starters – you might be asked if you’d like to be seated in igloos or heated tents and, “Did you BYOB (bring your own blanket)?” Who knew?

John Barker

With Paycheck Protection Program money coming to an end and no new relief bill in sight just yet, surviving the effects of COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic restrictions and consumer reticence remains difficult. Some support was provided by the state with $10,000 CARES Act grants for small businesses and $2,500 in funding for restaurants and bars with liquor licenses. Gov. Mike DeWine also announced the return of $5 billion worth of dividends for Ohio businesses, including restaurant and bar operators.

Just like every vote counts in an election, every bit of funding is a lifeline that gives businesses a better opportunity to survive and to help Ohio’s communities thrive in 2021 and beyond.

Operators are worried. In our most recent Ohio Restaurant Association impact poll, 56% said they don’t know how their business could survive with current conditions that include social-distancing requirements that limit capacity, a statewide 10 p.m. alcohol sale curfew and worsening weather that will affect outdoor-dining options.

To help with this troubling situation, the ORA is wrapping up its big statewide campaign called #DineSafeAcrossOhio. Through Friday, Nov. 20, the promotion encourages restaurants to participate safely and invite their fans, followers and guests, like you, to support them by dining in or taking out food more than normal. To learn more, go to ohiorestaurant.org/dinesafeacrossohio.

The Ohio Restaurant Association's #DineSafeAcrossOhio promotion was designed to help customers support their favorite restaurants.

Follow the ORA on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn) and search the hashtag #DineSafeAcrossOhio to see this great movement to get Ohio to dine out or carry out to help out and support your favorite spots.

No matter who is in the White House, small businesses need help. Desperately.

Will the administration and Congress help? We hope so, and the ORA will be talking to its representatives about passing a new relief bill for Americans and businesses.

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In democracy, “we the people” always has been, well, about the people. And you are the people who, in big and small ways, can help those same restaurants at which you always have celebrated life, shared special moments with friends and family and enjoyed warm and wonderful hospitality.

Stay safe and stay hungry, Ohio. The restaurant, food-service and hospitality industry is counting on you.

John Barker is president and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association.