Some restaurants delay reopening and stick with carryout

Published: May. 12, 2020 at 4:24 PM EDT
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As Ohio reopens restaurants to customers, some owners think it's too soon for dine in. Instead, they are sticking with curbside and carryout models for now.

Jorge Diaa, owner of 419 Tacos, said they had to quickly adapt when restaurants closed. He changed the business model, shifting to family-style meals offered for carryout and curbside.

Turns out, the plan worked. Diaz says he is not opening the restaurant to customers yet. He's worried that with capacity restrictions and a possible lack of customers he could be in the hole.

"To be honest, I need this restaurant to be fully functional in order to be profitable," says Diaz.

Right now, the carryout food and margaritas are attracting customers. Diaz says he is also considering plans for a patio out front as a way to add seating, once he does reopen for dine-in.

For now, he wants to wait and see how it goes for others choosing to move forward.

"I know we are all aching to have a beer and sit down at a bar but there's not enough guidelines yet. Are we going to have to have acrylic things? Do we need separation? Little things that aren't totally clear," says Diaz.

Chef CJ, co-owner of Balance Pan-Asian Grille, is also delaying dine-in. Right now the company has two of its four restaurants open for business. It is strictly curbside service, and CJ says they plan to keep it that way for at least another month.

The company recently invested in new technology at the Perrysburg location making the process of ordering and pickup smoother.

"It's working out really well for us and there's no good reason to rush into things," says CJ.

At this point, Balance says the next step is slowly reopening the locations in Maumee and downtown Toledo and making sure staff members feel safe and healthy.

"It's all about our loves ones, customers and employees. Their health is number one, and if we can maintain that, that's all we can do as a restaurant, and hopefully other restaurants support that as well," says CJ.

As for carryout liquor, under the current rules customers can get two drinks per food order. A spokesperson for the Ohio Liquor Control Commission says that rule will remain in place for now. The order, signed on April 7, is good for 120 days -- through July -- or until Governor Mike DeWine or the Ohio Liquor Control Commission overturns it.