LIMA — Restaurants with predominantly a dine-in clientele have suffered greatly since Gov. Mike DeWine banned in-person dining in restaurants across the state on March 15.
One of the hardest-hit local eateries is Lulu’s, which has seen a big decline in business.
“It’s almost non-existent,” said Amy Musil, owner of Lulu’s. “We had four locations, and we’re down to only doing to-go’s out of one of them. We had 54 employees, and we had to lay them all off. My husband and my son, we’re just doing the to-go’s ourselves.”
What drive-up business they’re getting has been good, and Musil appreciates the situation we’re all in.
“I think the big thing is that the public is scared, and they’re taking precautions to keep themselves safe, which is why we felt like it was in our best interest to keep our staff safe and keep their families safe and allow them to file for unemployment and get the benefits as soon as they could,” Musil said.
The regulars continue to order take-out.
“The customers have been amazing that we’ve had. They’ve tipped really well, which kind of offset some of the inconvenience and all the craziness,” Musil said.
There are also some stories that touch the heart.
“I have an older couple come in, and another family was in at the same time and just paid their bill. Another guy came in and got a bunch of burritos and took them to the fire department. The community is being really supportive,” Musil added.
Over in Wapakoneta, at the Lucky Steer Restaurant, they’re coping as best they can.
“I looked at all the food I had here and thought, ‘I’m going to have to throw thousands of dollars of food away,’” said Stefanie Holtz, owner of Lucky Steer. “I thought, ‘What can I do about that?’ And my manager sent me a message and said, ‘Have you seen what the truckers have been going through?’ And it just clicked, and I said, ‘OK, we’re going to offer 40% off to any trucker that comes here. They can drive their truck in the lot because we have no cars. So they’ll fit. There’s plenty of room to drive around, even the big rigs.’”
They posted the offer on Facebook, and the message spread quickly throughout the region.
“We have now reached over 17 million people on that post. I cannot fathom that it would have done this,” Holtz said. “We have been getting people calling in right and left from Georgia, Texas, Kentucky, giving us their credit cards over the phone and donating so the truckers are eating for free,” Holtz said.
Over at the Rowdy Rooster Cafe in Columbus Grove, they’ve been able to cope.
“It’s been affected, but we live in a very small community that’s very supportive,” said Cheryl Risser, co-owner of the Rowdy Rooster Cafe. ” We haven’t seen a huge change in our volumes. We’ve had a lot of people come in and order and leave. I’ve put several stories on Facebook about how people are leaving money, paying it forward, and then we’re delivering food to families that can’t afford meals.
“It’s all been working out to the point where it’s OK, we’re gonna be OK. We just have to get through this in the next month or two, and hopefully things will get back to normal.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.