STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio restaurants were closed in mid-March. Carryout has helped pay some bills, but it hasn’t been able to carry them. So, Congressman Tim Ryan came up with an idea to help.
On Monday, we looked into the idea and stopped by a local restaurant that has since reopened.
Alan Donatelli was walking booth to booth, talking with customers.
“Good. We had to come for the first day back,” said a Donavito’s customer.
Donavito’s reopened for the first time in 118 days. The Struthers restaurant had been closed for four months.
“I’ve had so many customers call, which is really nice. We’re just really excited to launch a new restaurant,” Donatelli said.
Donatelli used the downtime to make upgrades and renovations. He also provided some carryout services like selling racks of ribs, which was very popular.
Now, he’s back with in-house dining for lunch and dinner, cautious to see how it goes.
“I don’t believe if this continues for the rest of our lives with social distancing and 50% occupancy, no. In my industry, I don’t think we could stay open,” Donatelli said.
Ryan wants Congress to consider the Restaurant Act, which establishes $120 billion of support to help “mom and pop” places in the restaurant industry survive.
“It could be used for payroll, it can be used to pay suppliers, it could be used for inventory. This is going to have a great deal of flexibility,” Ryan said.
It would be a straight grant, no loan, paying the difference between a restaurant’s revenues this year and last year’s.
“Sure it’s enormous, if something like that could happen,” Donatelli said.
For now, Donatelli will keep serving customers, in-house and carryout.
If help comes, he’d welcome it, but he’s really looking for a complete return to normalcy.
“I love it. This has been my life for 37 years. I’m very excited about today,” Donatelli said.
Ryan’s Restaurant Act is geared toward restaurants that are not publicly traded or part of a chain, and have revenues less than $1.5 million.