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Restaurant Week delivers big to benefit local businesses—and bellies

Restaurant Week delivers big to benefit local businesses—and bellies

Lori Schmidt

Restaurant Week always offers Columbus residents a chance to find a new favorite place to eat. This year, it’s serving up something else as well—the chance to help local businesses struggling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

More than 100 restaurants are offering three-course meals at reduced prices, ranging from $15 to $40 through this Saturday, Sept. 19. 

“We encourage people to dine out at their favorite local establishments, who take safety and sanitization very seriously, and enjoy delicious food and generous hospitality,” said Ohio Restaurant Association President and CEO John Barker. 

Those wishing to partake can find the menus of meals being offered here. The options can be sorted by price point, and by those that are offering carryout, gluten-free options, vegan and vegetarian meals. 

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This year’s event comes at an especially crucial time for the industry. Nationwide, nearly 100,000 restaurants remain closed either permanently or long-term as a result of coronavirus and nearly 3 million of the industry’s employees are still out of work. 

The National Restaurant Association calculates its members are on track to lose $240 billion in sales by the end of the year.

Locally, the Ohio Restaurant Association conducted a poll that found 80% of restaurants don’t expect to break even this year, and 44% believe they will have to close within nine months if business does not pick up. 

“Columbus Restaurant Week is a great way to celebrate beloved restaurants in our community, and an important way to support the foodservice and hospitality industry,” said Barker. “So many of our restaurants are led by small business owners and operators, who employed 585,000 people in our state before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been detrimental.”

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