Small business owners of local restaurants gathered Monday to discuss the future of their restaurants amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
City and county officials were present including Trent Williams, Portsmouth City Treasurer, Sam Southerland, City Manager, our Commissioners: Mike Crabtree, Cathy Coleman and Bryan Davis, Andrew Gedeon from the City Health Department and Melissa Spears of the Scioto County Health Department.
“I wanted to bring all of the restaurant owners together with two purposes: how to feed the kids while they are out of school and how to get through this by reinventing our restaurants,” stated meeting organizer and owner of Patties and Pints, Tim Wolfe. “The officials are here, and the city is here to help us.”
Many restaurant owners in attendance said they will be re-purposing work hours the best they can to keep as many possible staff employed. Some owners also mentioned the need to adjust menus for curbside and carryout.
Owners asked patrons to order online or call ahead to place their order for pickup or delivery to homes or businesses depending on the capability of the restaurant. Social media was mentioned as an avenue of communication of those changes per customers favorite place to eat.
“To the community, I would say stay home and order take out until we get through this,” suggested Wolfe.
Scioto County has an estimated 173 food-related businesses with an estimated $875,000 payroll every two weeks. According to Ohio governor Mike DeWine, restaurants may resume as early as April 27 or as late as May 4 at this time.
Davis discussed the preparation that has taken place from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, the city and county health departments and elected officials, other organizations and the amount of time they have spent getting to this point.
Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services has set support, as of Monday morning, to assist displaced workers in applying for assistance. To apply for
• public assistance email SciotoIM@jfs.ohio.gov
• social services email SciotoSS@jfs.ohio.gov
• child support email SciotoCSEA@jfs.ohio.gov
To apply for public assistance, you may call 1-844-640-6446 or apply online at benefits.ohio.gov The web portal for CSEA is https://jfs.ohio.gov/Ocs/CustServWebPortalWelcom2.stm
More information on unemployment benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19 can be found online at jfs.ohio.go/coronavirus and to apply for unemployment benefits visit uemployment.ohio.gov. Governor DeWine signed an emergency order to expand flexibility to help during this emergency.
According to Davis, at the time, Scioto County does not have a confirmed case of Coronavirus yet. He urged everyone to take heed to the precautions being set forth by Governor DeWine.
“We need to flatten the curve, our healthcare professionals need that,” Davis said. “Stretch it out as much as you can, they need extra time (to prepare).”
Mark Hunter, operator of Steven’s Power Pack program, also attended the meeting and said distribution will continue to the distribution sights that were established before the school closures at this time. Next week he will be looking for volunteers to help pack the food before distribution, but restraints on how many can meet at one time come into account.
“We don’t know where they (the gaps of unfed children) will be at this point,” Hunter stated.
Tim Wolfe suggested to local restaurant owners to consider offering free meals to children on a rotation during the week. More information is expected to develop the idea in the next weeks to come.
Other topics discussed at the meeting included developing relief plans for small business on a local level following any Federal and State announcements, meal plan delivery and continued communication with local restaurant owners via social media.
The next meeting is planned for 10 a.m. Monday, March 23 at Patties and Pints, 546 Second Street, Portsmouth.