MAHONING CO., Ohio (WKBN) – The local service industry was sent scrambling earlier Sunday after Governor Mike DeWine ordered bars and restaurants to close statewide at 9 p.m. Sunday night. They are now only allowed to operate for takeout and delivery orders.
“This is going to be huge for us, thousands of dollars in losses just on Tuesday alone,” said Jeff Richards, owner of JR’z Pub in Austintown. “The fact is that it created way more questions than it did answers at this point. How long is it going to last? What is the ramifications of that?”
Richards and his son Josh own JR’z Pub in Austintown and they aren’t the only family members behind the bar.
“All my kids are here in one way, shape or form. My wife here as a bartender, my daughter-in-law is a bartender. In fact, we just had, everyone just left the house, we had a meeting, you know, what are we going to do next?” Richards said. “Here is the plan, we are going to take it step by step, but we just hope that it doesn’t last long because the longer it lasts, the worse it is going to be for everybody, not just us but all the other businesses in the area.”
One of those businesses is across the street on Raccoon Road, Sam’s Wedge Inn.
“Uncertainty right now is the word. The number one goal is to take care of the employees and make sure they are able to survive the next few weeks, months, whatever it may be,” said Nate Tomko, manager at Sam’s Wedge Inn.
It comes at a bad time for the service industry as well.
One of the biggest social days of the year, St. Patrick’s Day, looms on Tuesday, with bars and employees taking a massive hit.
“I am not going to lie, it is a huge blow for us. Not just limited to St. Patrick’s Day, that is one day a year, but for the employees trying to make money here, every day of the week, it is going to be a catastrophic blow not just for the business but for the hourly employees as well,” said Tomko.
“We are not like Walmart or Disney where we can just, oh, we have a few billion dollars sitting around, a month is not going to affect us. The smaller the business, especially family run business, the tighter it is going to be and the quicker the demise could be for a lot of those businesses,” Richards said.
For now, the bar stools will stay empty as bars and restaurants close across the Valley.
“It is going to be real weird, real weird. Because that is what we do. That is what we look forward to. People come here regularly to see us and say hi. It is going to be difficult,” said Richards.
The same was true on the other side of the bar.
Customers are also reacting to the loss of their favorite places to eat and hang out.
Locals who come to the Riser Tavern & Grill in Boradman also expressed their concern Sunday evening.
“I feel like it should be more left up to the individual and the people who are here to decide,” said Allison Zwicker, a regular at Risers. “It should be like that.”
“I don’t carry a lot of food in my refrigerator at home, so I eat out a lot. I enjoy coming to a restaurant, getting food. The nice part will be that they are offering carry-out,” said another regular, Scott Johnson.
The Riser Tavern & Grill will still take online orders and do delivery.