CLEVELAND (WJW) — Restaurant owners across Ohio are hoping they can have customers inside their dining rooms soon.
Governor Mike DeWine ordered all restaurants to close their dining rooms several weeks ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I didn’t think it would be this long,” said John Tomasulo, owner of Johnny’s Diner in Hudson. “We tried for the SBA loan but have not heard anything. If we can’t open up soon, we may not be able to open again.”
Tomasulo and other local owners say they are preparing now for major changes once they can allow social distancing dining.
“Safety is our number one concern,” said Kerry Russo, who along with her husband Dan, owns The Tavern of Stow.
Dan Russo said they are working on providing more dining options outside on the patio and making sure the tables are spaced apart.
“We are not just going to open our doors and let a bunch of people come in,” Dan Russo said. “It is going to be strategic, it’s going to be sanitary and it’s going to be safe.”
Many restaurants are also looking at having paper menus. Staff will also be wearing masks and customers will be encouraged to do so as well.
And officials at Lago in Cleveland say the new normal will include having less customers inside the restaurant.
“We are prepared to be limited greatly,” said Brendan Kearney, director of operations for the Salerno Group. “We do a lot of business regularly with private dining and large scale events. We will be waiting to see how those restrictions go. “
Many restaurant officials are hoping they can reopen by May 15.
“We just want to get back to as close to normal as we can,” Kearney said. “This is what we do for a living and what we love to do. “
Many of the restaurants are offering carry out. Local owners are asking everyone to consider getting take out once a week if they can because it will help them keep their workers employed.