What restaurants and foodservice businesses need to know.
OCTOBER 8, 2020
This update to our ORA members and the Ohio restaurant, foodservice and hospitality community addresses rapidly evolving news and topics.
  • Watch “We Are Ohio’s Restaurants” Video
  • State Update: DeWine Still Considering Change to 10 pm Alcohol Sales Curfew
  • Federal Update: Relief Bill Discussion Staggering in D.C.
  • Industry News: CDC Issues Update on How COVID-19 Spreads
  • Important Events and Information for Owners + Operators: Survivor Tech and Supporting a Diverse Workforce Webinars 
  • Updates from Gov. DeWine’s Thursday News Conference
  • Take this Week’s ORA Business Impact Poll
We Are Ohio’s Restaurants

to see some of your favorite local establishments talk
about operating their restaurants safely and taking care of guests  
State Update: DeWine Still Considering
Later Alcohol Sales Curfew

The ORA’s John Barker, Tod Bowen and several board members/industry leaders spoke with Gov. DeWine late in the afternoon. Many of our members shared their view about moving the curfew to midnight and the tremendously negative impact the curfew is having on sales, profits and employee income. The curfew has been in place since July 31. We know, and our conversations with the Ohio Investigative Unit confirm, that the vast majority of operators statewide are doing a great job adhering to the Dine Safe Ohio order and the Ohio Restaurant Promise. The ORA has requested any contact tracing data that shows spread and transmission at restaurants, but public health officials have been unable to provide that information.

  • Due to COVID-19, all Ohio bars and restaurants are prohibited from selling alcohol past 10 p.m., and onsite consumption of alcohol must be finished by 11 p.m.
  • The governor asserted that the virus is still spreading at bars and restaurants. But, he said, typically it's large gatherings, such as weddings and funerals, causing significant and increased COVID-19 spread throughout Ohio.
  • "We know this extra time that people could spend in a bar is important to businesses," DeWine said. "This really is no different to any other decisions that we've made. ...They're not easy decisions."
  • DeWine didn't have a timeline for any changes and said he's trying to balance the needs of businesses and public health.
  • John Barker, President and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association, said many businesses may not survive through the end of 2020 unless they get help right away. They have done their best with carryout and outdoor dining, but Barker said, with winter approaching, outdoor dining will soon not be an option. The 10 pm cut-off for alcohol sales are a severe limitation.
The ORA recommends restaurant and bar owners/operators write, email and call the Governor’s office to professionally express the impact this is having on your business and employees.

Bill Aids Sales at Bars + Restaurants with Liquor Permits
SANDUSKY REGISTER — The Ohio General Assembly approved a bill by state Rep. D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron and Rep. Jeff LaRe, R-Lancaster, to help bars and restaurants with liquor permits make more money as they comply with COVID-19 safety rules. Swearingen said he expects Gov. Mike DeWine to sign the “Business and Safety Act,” House Bill 669. The bill has an emergency clause and will go into effect after the governor inks it. Swearingen said he worked with business owners as he advanced the bill and said he was mindful of the importance of the hospitality industry in Erie and Ottawa counties.

“Businesses have been restricted for so long now due to the threat of COVID-19 and it’s time we give them the opportunities to draw-in some much-needed revenue while simultaneously ensuring the safety of Ohioans,” Sweringen said.

The bill’s provisions include:

  • Retail liquor permit holders can use more outside space on public or private property to serve customers, with the permission of local governments.
  • Making permanent law of the permission the Ohio Liquor Control Commission gave for carryout alcoholic beverages.

The Senate added an amendment that permit holders must sell a meal with alcoholic to-go beverages, and no more than three drinks may be sold with each meal.
Swearingen said groups backing the bill included the Ohio Restaurant Association, Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, the Greater Ohio Policy Center and the Buckeye Institute.
Ohio Coronavirus Map Shows 18 Red Counties, 58 Orange; Outbreaks Traced to Weddings, Funerals - The number of Ohio counties that are now classified as red or Level 3 in the latest coronavirus county advisory map is 18, a number that hasn’t been seen since July 23.

  • Furthermore, 58 counties are orange or Level 2 – a high that has never been seen in the past, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday when explaining the map.
  • In past weeks, the map would show more urban areas hit or rural areas. But this week there’s no such spread. The infection is widespread, DeWine said.
  • Ohio has 88 counties. Ninety-six percent of Ohioans live in a red or orange county, he said.
  • “As we talk to public health department what they tell us is when they try to drill down on the cause of this spread, lax social distancing, not enough people wearing masks, not enough following quarantining, isolation guidance,” DeWine said.
  • The state categorizes counties based on a number of points of data, including the number of cases per 100,000 residents, the number of new cases and doctor and emergency room visits of people with COVID-19-like symptoms.
  • DeWine said that many outbreaks in red counties have been traced to funerals and weddings.
Federal Update: Relief Bill Talks Staggering in D.C.  
Pelosi, Mnuchin Speak About Broad Stimulus Bill as White House Sends Mixed Signals
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke Thursday about the prospect of striking a broad coronavirus stimulus deal, after President Donald Trump pulled out of talks earlier this week and called for stand-alone bills. Earlier, Pelosi said she would not pass a separate bill to send relief to airlines to cover payroll. As more signs of a faltering economic recovery emerge, the Trump administration and Democrats are running out of time to pass a potential relief bill before the 2020 election. 

  • Pelosi and Mnuchin had a 40-minute afternoon phone conversation about “whether there is any prospect of an imminent agreement on a comprehensive bill,” the speaker’s spokesman Drew Hammill said in a tweet.
  • Hammill said Mnuchin “made clear” Trump had interest in finding agreement on a comprehensive relief package — generally considered one that would address a range of issues including jobless benefits, direct payments, state and local government relief and aid to airlines to cover payrolls. 

Where COVID-19 Relief Bill Stands After Trump, And What it Means for You: FAQs
With stimulus negotiations all but over after President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he rejected Democrats’ offer and would wait until after the elections, Americans will likely have to wait at least another month for urgently needed aid.

The National Restaurant Association’s Update and Press Statement: 
“The twists and turns of these negotiations make for great theater here in Washington, but every week of further inaction means that hundreds of additional restaurants will shut their doors in communities nationwide. If the White House and Congress are going to stop work on a comprehensive plan, it will be a failure if they cannot at least reach agreement on the basics that will allow restaurants to survive the winter – a second round of PPP and expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit. Restaurants are fighting to keep their doors open – lawmakers need to keep their doors open as well and hammer out a deal.” 
– Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs – National Restaurant Association
Late yesterday, President Trump tweeted a call for a limited bill consisting of funds for airlines, a second round of PPP, and $1,600 stimulus checks.  
‘It Wasn’t Wise’: Republicans Urge Trump to Restart Covid Talks

Problem Solvers Caucus Leader Says Covid Stimulus Deal Is 'Within Inches'

Stimulus Doubts Stoke Uncertainty for Shoppers, Retailers Just as Holiday Season Begins
  • A breakdown of stimulus talks adds more chaos to an already chaotic holiday season during the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • “It is not an overstatement to say that pushing out any stimulus package until after the election is a disaster,” said Andy Polk, a senior vice president at footwear industry trade group FDRA.
  • “Holiday is starting now. This is the time retailers need consumers to feel confidence,” said David Bassuk, global co-leader of the retail practice at AlixPartners. 
Industry News: New Monthly News Column
Written by the ORA
CDC Issues Update on How COVID-19 Spreads
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance to its How COVID-19 Spreads website, which includes information about the potential for airborne spread of the virus. See here.
CDC Updated Guidance
The CDC continues to assert that people are more likely to become infected the longer and closer they are to a person with COVID-19. The update acknowledges the existence of some published reports showing limited, uncommon circumstances where people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the positive person left an area. In these instances, transmission occurred in poorly ventilated/enclosed spaces that often involved activities that caused heavier breathing like singing or exercise. After a technical review of the guidance, CDC’s recommendations remain the same based on existing science. People can protect themselves from the virus by staying at least 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth, washing their hands frequently, cleaning touched surfaces often, and staying home when sick.
Restaurant Impact
The National Restaurant Association has been resolute in its approach, specifically that COVID-19 spreads primarily person to person. The last paragraph in yesterday’s release (which the media has ignored) is clear on this issue and the information the association has received from CDC affirms that we continue to deliver solid guidance to our members.
Should you have any questions, please contact the National Restaurant Association: Larry Lynch ( or Laura Abshire ( 
New Monthly Column "Fare Share" in ThisWeek Community Newspapers written by President & CEO John Barker

“Where do you want to go out to eat?” Before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, this question was asked without a second thought on any night of the week, and early in 2020, we were at the pinnacle of the golden age of restaurants.

Meet the ORA's new Membership Retention Manager, Mary Leiby. Mary and Shoshanna Gross talk about Mary's role with the ORA, something unique about Ohio's State Flag and why Sister Sister is the best TV show from the 90's.
Cleveland Scene - “I've never seen a summer like this in Cleveland," says Doug Katz. “I’m so grateful that we have had this.”
The Ohio Restaurant Association's members say 56% of them could close in the next nine months. Here are the victims the coronavirus has already claimed.
Ruby Tuesday will permanently close 185 stores that had shut their doors during the pandemic, leaving 236 operating locations
Restaurant Sales Results Show Improvement, But Traffic Still Down Nearly 15%
September 2020 - With improved restaurant sales, September was the first month since February where year–over–year sales growth was better than -10%, according to Black Box Intelligence™ Industry Snapshot.

  • Same-store sales growth for the month was -8.1% for the industry, an improvement in year–over–year sales growth of 4.1 percentage points,
  • However, traffic during the month was significantly worse, down -14.7%.
  • The industry data includes the pizza and quick service segments, which are reporting positive sales versus a year, offset by significantly negative sales in nearly every other restaurant segment.  
'Ghost kitchen' Concept Taking Off in Cleveland as Restaurant Owners Get Creative
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — The restaurant industry has constantly tried to find creative ways to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the concept of “ghost kitchens” may be catching on in the Cleveland area.

  • Ghost kitchens gained popularity in densely populated urban areas, where the high cost of real estate made restaurants without dining rooms appealing.
  • “I love when I start talking about this with people and they think it’s a whole restaurant that has ghosts running around,” laughed John Barker, CEO for the Ohio Restaurant Association. “It’s a way to keep your cost down from an operation standpoint because you don’t have to run a restaurant,” Barker said, adding that several have also popped up in the Columbus area. “But you do have delivery costs to deal with so you trade one cost for another.”
  • But take a peek inside what used to be Cleveland chef Doug Katz’s catering kitchen and you won’t find any ghosts — just trained chefs and cooks.
  • Watch -
Parts of New York May Shutdown Restaurants
Yet again parts of New York are shutting down after cases of coronavirus are surging in some areas. Gov. Cuomo released a plan this week — which mirrors a proposal from Mayor Bill de Blasio—that uses a color-coded system to place additional restrictions on schools, businesses, and other facilities. Under the plan, restaurants in red zones will be limited to takeout or delivery service, while establishments in orange zones can offer outdoor dining to small groups. Indoor dining for no more than four per table will be permitted for restaurants in yellow zones. 
Important Events and Information for Owners + Operators
Update from Gov. DeWine’s News
Conference on Thursday


In addition, this order also details compassionate care visits, which are separate and distinct from normal visitation. These visits are not exclusively for end-of-life situations but can also include situations where a resident was recently admitted to the home and are struggling with the change in environment and lack of family support.

Other situations can include when a resident is grieving someone who recently passed away, a resident that may need encouragement to eat or drink that was previously provided by a family member or caregiver and is experiencing weight loss or dehydration, or when a resident is experiencing emotional distress.

Facilities should work with residents, families, caregivers, resident representatives, clinicians, and the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program to identify the need, length, and frequency of these visits.

The order is available on




Additional information about COVID-19 testing throughout the state is available at under the Testing and Community Health Centers tab.


Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page
ORA Business Impact Poll
ORA Open for Business Poll: On-going Economic Status

The ORA remains dedicated to collecting and sharing overall health and growth trends of restaurants in Ohio. 

We'd like to know how your business is being impacted so we can continue providing the support you need. We will send this poll out every two weeks with updated questions to reflect the guidelines for doing business. You'll have 72 hours to complete.

Please take a minute to fill out this quick poll.

We appreciate your time and assistance!
We're in this together.
The ORA Team
Promote. Protect. Partner.
Then, now & always.

For 100 years, the ORA has served as a tireless advocate for the restaurant industry, promoting ideas and legislation that help protect you, your business and people, while ensuring you’re up-to-date in every area.

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We’re all in this together.  
For additional questions, please contact the following ORA staff:

For questions, related to the members and restaurant community:
President & CEO
Managing Director of Membership & Employer/Food Safety

Managing Director of External Affairs & Government Relations


Manager of Media & Communications