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Toledoans serve on group tasked with safely reopening Ohio bars, restaurants

Take a look at some of the restaurants around Knoxville that will be open on Christmas Day. /...
Take a look at some of the restaurants around Knoxville that will be open on Christmas Day. / (MGN)<br />(WVLT)
Published: May. 4, 2020 at 9:55 PM EDT
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As COVID-19 keeps Ohio's bars and restaurants idle, Gov. Mike DeWine is tapping on those who know them best to get things moving again.

"From small diners all the way to bigger chains, they have worked very, very hard, and I'm grateful for that work," DeWine said Monday of his newly created Restaurant Advisory Group, which is tasked with getting customers to safely dine in again.

Of a nearly 40 person panel, three members are from Toledo, including the owners of Schmucker's Restaurant, The Beirut and Tony's Quarterdeck.

"If we don't get this right it can be devastating for our community and for our industry," Schmucker's owner Doug Schmucker said.

Like many owners, Schmucker said COVID-19 has hit his restaurant hard. He's still doing take-out, but it's not sustainable with sales cut in half.

"We look forward to being open again for dine-in service," Schmucker said.

Now serving on the governor's task force, Schmucker said he's proud to have a hand in planning the reopening of Ohio's food industry.

"We have focused solely on, 'How do we do that safely for the staff and for the dining customer?'" Schmucker said.

While he can't talk specifics, Schmucker said the group meets daily by phone and by video conference. When time comes to reopen he says Ohioans can expect to see practices in place similar to those already used in other industries.

"I hope that the community recognizes the value in that and has confidence in the restaurant industry when it does reopen," Schmucker said.

It's a process that Schmucker said will allow business to resume while keeping people protected.

"As bad as I want to open I don't want to do it until I can assure the safety of our staff and our patrons," Schmucker said.

The Restaurant Advisory Group will pass its recommendations along to Gov. DeWine in the coming days. Schmucker expects a full plan to be announced soon.