With the Indians returning to full capacity at Progressive Field and state health orders ending on June 2, restaurants are hopeful to see business pick up again.
CLEVELAND — Joseph Frederickson owns Society Lounge, one of several businesses on East 4th Street, which is one of the most well-known areas in Cleveland.
“I think there’s more Cleveland wedding photos happening on this street than anywhere else in the city,” Frederickson says. “This street in general is a destination for a lot of people.”
Business has been cut by 80% for Frederickson. Some restaurants have shut down for good over the last 14 months of the pandemic.
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“In almost every neighborhood we’ve seen closures, some of them permanent, some temporary,” explains John Barker of the Ohio Restaurant Association. Experts there believe that restaurants aren’t out of the woods yet and likely won’t recoup losses from the pandemic until 2023.
“We’re doing everything we can to try to help more survive. And get some restaurants reopened now that we’re here in May 2021,” Barker adds.
And survival is dependent on customers.
“I think after June 2nd,” predicts Frederickson. “After June 2nd they get rid of all the restrictions. People can stand next to each other. People can be crammed into a bar like we use to. People can go to concerts.”
In addition to Ohio’s COVID-19 health orders ending on June 2, that date will also be when the Cleveland Indians will be back at full capacity at Progressive Field.
RELATED: Downtown restaurant owners excited to see business return to normal as Progressive Field returns to full capacity
Already business is starting to pick up at Society Lounge and Frederickson is confident the floodgates will open as soon as health orders go away. It can’t come quick enough as restaurants nationwide have lost $280 billion in sales.
The businesses that have closed for good on East 4th Street won’t be empty for long. New options are already moving in, which is a sign that this area will once again be a true destination in Cleveland.
The only thing that seems to be holding restaurants back is staffing. You may see different hours than usual with wait staff appearing overwhelmed. The Ohio Restaurant Associattion says be patient and understand that businesses are doing the best they can with what they have.