Michael Symon reopening restaurants following months-long closure

michael symon
Michael Symon sits down with News 5's Katie Ussin.
Posted at 4:16 PM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 00:10:32-04

CLEVELAND — Restaurants in Northeast Ohio are getting back to business day by day and renowned Cleveland chef Michael Symon is opening the doors to his restaurants.

Out here on East 4th Street, the last few months have seen a lot of changes just to say the least—from a pandemic to protests.

Today, you see some signs of life. There are people on the patios, there are new windows up, new businesses opening their doors, and old ones resuming service.

"Look, it's challenging -- we’re not going through anything that the rest of the world’s not going through. It’s a scary time for the restaurant business though, as a general statement," Chef Symon told News 5's Homa Bash.

But as always, Symon is up for that challenge.

After months of being shut down, the doors are now open at Lola’s, Mabel’s and B-Spot Burgers. But like so many other restaurant owners, Symon and his crew are trying to figure out new ways to do business.

"The menu will be a little bit smaller, everybody will be wearing masks. We are more focused on carryout than we’ve ever been in the past," Symon said. "It was never something we had to worry about, because the restaurants were always full fortunately."

Part of that creativity comes in the form of burger and rib kits they’re selling for the Fourth of July.

Within 24 hours, more than 300 kits were sold. When they did the same for Father’s Day, they shipped out more than a thousand.

"Astonished. I’m never not surprised, I thought we were gonna sell like 12 of these," Symon said, laughing that signature laugh.

Symon said about 70% of his staff came back and is already busy at work. That’s roughly 210 employees across his restaurants.

"Once this is all said and done, probably 40 to 50% of restaurants won’t make it back in a couple months. so that’s sad for a business I've been in for two-thirds of my life," he said.

Still — there will be changes to deal with each day, but Symon said he’s excited for the challenge and ready to give it all they’ve got.

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Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.