Northeast Ohio restaurants optimistic about proposed federal aid bill


HUDSON, Ohio (WJW)–  Johnny’s Diner in Hudson is just one of hundreds of restaurants facing difficult financial times because of the coronavirus crisis.

“It’s heartbreaking and we couldn’t even be with him,” Tomasulo said.

John Tomasulo, the owner of Johnny’s Diner, said the past few months have been devastating. His father died with COVID-19 in March.

The father of five said his once booming restaurant is now barely surviving.

“I am down 40 percent,” Tomasulo said. “It has been tough to make ends meet and this is my means to make a living. We aren’t getting the usual crowds and with two kids in college, that’s not a good thing.”

So Tomasulo was excited to hear of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan’s support of a proposed bill that would help restaurants survive.

During a video news conference on Monday, Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio’s 13th District, said the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act, would give $120 billion in grants to the food and drink establishments that make less than $1.5 million a year.

Ryan explained the grants would cover the difference between revenues restaurants made in 2019 and the projected revenues for 2020. The money could be used for payroll, mortgage, utilities, food and debt.

“This is for the small, family-owned restaurants who have been left behind,” Ryan said.

Ken Stewart, who owns restaurants in Bath and Akron, said many owners need help now.

“I am having to take the money we are bringing in from the restaurants to pay the existing bills, and then going back and paying 45 to 60 days of past bills,” Stewart said.

Ryan said the bill does have bipartisan support. He is hoping it will get passed as soon as possible.

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