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'I am doing everything I can to keep the doors open': COVID surge hits Tri-State restaurants

Ohio restaurants hoping to see decrease in cases
restaurant worker shortage
Posted at 10:47 PM, Jan 06, 2022

CINCINNATI — A surge in COVID-19 cases is forcing local restaurants to adapt yet again.

For Carl’s Deli owner Anne McManus, the recent omicron surge is concerning. She said she is doing everything she can to stay open, including wearing masks and asking customers to do the same. The deli is focused on making sure no one gets sick, especially for an already short-staffed business.

"It's a big concern of mine that my employees stay healthy,” McManus said. “Because without them, I can't do it by myself."

Like many businesses, McManus said Carl’s Deli has faced hardships throughout the pandemic. They recently changed their hours back to what they were before the pandemic, thinking things were looking up.

"Disappointed that COVID has popped up again,” McManus said. "The most important thing is that we take it one day at a time — do what's within our power. I am doing everything I can to keep the doors open.”

RELATED | Local health leaders: Tri-State omicron cases doubling 'every 2-4 days'

John Barker, president of the Ohio Restaurant Association, said the industry is on a roller coaster. He said business picked up after vaccinations became available. However, things recently took a turn.

"You know, it seemed like things were gonna be OK, at least that's what we thought,” Barker said. “Then, sadly, we're dealing with a whole new wave with omicron. This is really pinching the industry again.”

According to the association, Ohio has lost 3,150 restaurants since the pandemic began. Barker said they are hoping to not lose any more and hoping to see a decrease in COVID cases.

"There's so many people who are testing positive with COVID that restaurants are short-handed just like any other business right now,” Barker said. “ If you have normally 50 employees, you probably have five or 10 people tested positive. It puts a lot of pressure on [restaurants] then, because some of them are still sitting on a lot of debt from 2020 — a lot of bills that didn't get paid.”

Carl’s Deli remains hopeful.

"I believe we will prevail,” McManus said. “As long as we continue to mask up, sanitize and encourage our customers to support us.”

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