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The Lost Year: 2020 Reinventing Restaurants

Balance Pan-Asian Grille focuses on mobile ordering and curbside service
Published: Feb. 28, 2021 at 12:14 PM EST
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SYLVANIA TWP., Ohio (WTVG) - There are 23,500 food service locations in Ohio. Many of them are struggling to break even and stay open. Others are leading by example.

At Balance Pan-Asian Grille at the corner of Holland-Sylvania and Central Ave. in Sylvania Township, employees are in and out all day, delivering curbside orders to customers in their cars.

Balance Pan-Asian Grille has focused on curbside pickup and ordering through the mobile app to...
Balance Pan-Asian Grille has focused on curbside pickup and ordering through the mobile app to adapt to the pandemic.(Tony Geftos)

“You know, going into the pandemic, we already did 80% take out and only 20% of our customers chose to dine in, and 50% of our customers were already ordering through the mobile app. So, for us, that pivot was relatively easy,” explains Balance co-owner Prakash Karamchandani, who is also a board member of the Ohio Restaurant Association.

Balance closed all of its dining rooms in March 2020. As of early March 2021, they had yet to reopen, even after undergoing extensive remodels to create more space, contactless service, and touchless ordering through upgraded technology.

Balance renovated the interiors of its four restaurants in anticipation of the eventual return...
Balance renovated the interiors of its four restaurants in anticipation of the eventual return of dine-in customers.(Tony Geftos)

“So that’s why we’re taking our time and just being patient until we open our doors again for dining. Because, you know, we care about our employees and our customers, so that’s our number one priority: safety,” adds HoChan “CJ” Jang, who founded Balance with Karamchandani in 2010 after the two graduated together from The University of Toledo.

The two have adapted their business model to survive the pandemic while many other restauranteurs have struggled. According to The Ohio Restaurant Association, 1 out of every 5 food service locations in Ohio closed during the pandemic. Some may never reopen.

Even Balance, which had five locations is down to four. The original Maumee location is now closed.

Since the pandemic started in March 2020, Balance has closed its Maumee location, reducing its...
Since the pandemic started in March 2020, Balance has closed its Maumee location, reducing its restaurants from 5 to 4.(Tony Geftos)

“About half of the restaurants out there are independent. They’re not linked to a franchise or a chain or anything like that and their year has been really tough,” says John Barker, President and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association.

Balance Pan-Asian Grille also serves bubble tea to go, but the dining room has been closed...
Balance Pan-Asian Grille also serves bubble tea to go, but the dining room has been closed since March 2020.(Tony Geftos)

Barker explains about one-third of all food service locations are due-paying members of the Ohio Restaurant Association. However, since the start of the pandemic, the organization has made all of its resources available to everyone free of charge. It has also started a relief fund for struggling restaurants, awarding roughly $500,000 in grants so far.

To apply for relief or to donate to the fund click here: Ohio Restaurant Association.

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