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Michael Symon reopening restaurants following months-long closure

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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