Valley restaurants ‘keeping their heads above water’ amid third week of no dining in

Coronavirus

Having survived the Depression, a world war and the closing of the steel mills, the Royal Oaks is one of Youngstown's oldest bars, but can it survive COVID-19?

(WKBN) – Limiting restaurants to takeout or delivery-only was one of the first orders issued by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to stop the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants are now on their third week of keeping their dining rooms and bars closed.

Three local restaurant owners said they’re hanging in there, but barely.

On Friday, there was a steady flow of people in and out of the Struthers Belleria, many of them carrying orders of pizza or fish.

“They’ve been around here for a long time so I commend them for being open,” said Diane Daltorio, of Youngstown.

“We’re keeping our head above water with the carry-out and we have a lot of loyal customers that we have to thank for that,” said co-owner Bob Camardo.

Camardo says Friday night is Belleria’s best night, and he’s trying to keep as many people employed as possible.

“Most of the servers have not been able to work but the other people, we’ve spread out the hours amongst them so that they all have a little bit of hours,” he said.

Six miles away, for the second straight day, Canfield’s Josh McGaffic was carrying out bags of food from Boardman’s Blue Wolf Tavern.

“My wife and I are both in health care with two little ones and it’s nice to help local businesses as well as good food,” he said.

“The carry-out business kind of took a turn in the last three or four days and things are starting to pick up a little bit,” said Blue Wolf owner Joe Rzonsa.

Twenty-five percent of Blue Wolf’s business was from the bar… that has hurt. Its entire banquet operation has also shut down and Blue Wolf was not set up for takeout-only.

“Our system is definitely geared toward 90 to 95% dine in, so we’ve had to do some serious adjustments,” Rzonsa said.

“We’re predominantly a bar first, not really a carry-out business,” said Royal Oaks owner John Kennedy.

The Royal Oaks is on Youngstown’s east side and is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Kennedy said he has some good workers that he doesn’t want to lose.

“So we’re kind of almost breaking even, losing a little bit,” he said.

Having opened in 1934, the Royal Oaks is one of Youngstown’s oldest bars. It survived the Depression, a world war and the closing of the steel mills.

So, can it make it through this?

“Honestly, I heard June 1. That’d be a stretch for us. I’m already losing catering jobs, wedding receptions. I’ve lost golf outings already and graduation parties. This is unchartered. It’s unbelievable,” Kennedy said.

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