LORAIN, Ohio (WJW) – The long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a ripple effect across Northeast Ohio.
The owner of a restaurant in Lorain is closing his doors at the end of October, and he says post-pandemic conditions played a major role in the decision.
Starting in the mid-90s, The Jackalope, which was later rebranded the Erie Steak and Seafood Company, has been a popular destination for diners from across Northeast Ohio.
What made the restaurant stand out were the dramatic views of Lake Erie, the lighthouse in Lorain and the Oasis Marina.
But after thousands of beautiful sunsets, the owner of the restaurant is turning out the lights on the restaurant that he has spent half of his life fighting to keep afloat.
“It’s like getting 900 feet from the top of Mount Everest and you just can’t make it, you’ve got to turn back and you know, call it a day,” Jim Andrews told FOX 8.
The 54-year-old Andrews, who leases the space from Oasis Marina, says the skyrocketing cost of food and supplies made it impossible to keep the restaurant open.
“You know, in 2019, going through a case of prime rib a night, that five prime ribs, that was between $500 and $600 a case. That went up about $1,300 to $1,400 a case”, said Andrews. “We also go through about 200 to 300 pounds a week in just perch alone and that cost itself went up about 56%.”
Andrew says he has weathered many storms over the past quarter century, but it turns out the conditions created by the pandemic were too much to overcome.
After taking a hit from the shut down, he was optimistic about the business rebounding, but since then, he has been hit by the double whammy of the rising cost of labor and difficulty retaining employees.
“I don’t know where people went, I really don’t. I don’t know what got in people’s brains, I just don’t understand,” he said.
As the sun sets on his restaurant, Andrews is changing the name back to what it was during its heyday, The Jackalope.
“You start feeling like a failure but you know, like everybody says, you did 27 years. To close is not fun, but that’s life,” he said.
The final night for dinner at the restaurant will be on October 28, and in the meantime, Andrews is looking for a new ownership group to take over his unique place on the lake.