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Closings of southwest Ohio restaurant chains show coronavirus woes for industry

Frisch’s Big Boy has joined the list of restaurants nationwide choosing to not reopen locations during the coronavirus pandemic while maintaining others as drive-thru- and carryout-only locations for the time being.

Frisch’s officials told this news outlet the permanent closures in Ohio and Kentucky, including one in Butler County, were “due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Restaurants not reopening include 7075 Yankee Road in Liberty Twp. and 25 W 5th St. in downtown Cincinnati’s Carew Tower, as well as locations in Gahanna, Marysville and Urbana and two locations in Louisville, Kentucky (Bardstown Road and Fern Valley).

Employees at those locations have been invited to join nearby Frisch’s restaurants, the company said in a statement.

The 5,000-square-foot Liberty Twp. restaurant opened in August 2012.

Restaurants remaining open solely for drive-thru and carryout service include Germantown (1800 Germantown Road, Middletown); Hamilton Dixie (2949 Dixie Highway, Hamilton); Hamilton Avenue (11122 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati); Moraine (2861 Wilmington Pike, Dayton); North College Hill (1575 W. Galbraith Road, Cincinnati); Price Hill (1001 Gest St., Cincinnati); Spring Grove (4645 Spring Grove Ave., Cincinnati).

Homa Moheimani, spokeswoman for the Ohio Restaurant Association, said this is “an unprecedented, difficult time” for everyone, the restaurant, service and hospitality industries included.

Since the March 15 temporary shutdown of indoor dining, no week has looked the same for the restaurant industry and owners have scrambled to shift their models to include carryout and curbside pickup, if they didn’t already have that in place, Moheimani said.

“It’s been a really challenging time,” she said.

Restaurants, she said, typically fall into one of three categories. Some locations are struggling or have completely shut down, while others are getting by with creative options, including offering groceries or special deals to generate business and are “doing OK but not thriving yet.”

The third category, she said, consists of restaurants that are thriving during coronavirus. Those locations, she said, typically already are fast casual places that could easily adapt to a changing business model or eateries that had delivery or carryout options already in place, Moheimani said.

Frisch’s isn’t the only restaurant chain shutting down locations with the sustained nature of the pandemic.

The parent company of Chuck E. Cheese has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy “in order to overcome the financial strain resulting from prolonged COVID-19 related venue closures” and to restore the kids-entertainment-and-pizza chain to a position of long-term success, according to a release from CEC Entertainment, Inc.

Three southwest Ohio Chuck E. Cheese venues are open and operating, including locations in Sharonville, Miamisburg and the Springfield area.

Those three locations are among 266 company-operated Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza restaurant and arcade venues that CEC Entertainment said it had “safely re-opened, in accordance with all CDC, federal, state and local guidelines,” according to a release.

But not all Chuck E. Cheese restaurants in Ohio will reopen. According to court documents from the U.S. Bankruptcy court in southern Texas, Chuck E. Cheese is stepping away from the leases of 34 “under-performing” locations nationwide, including one in Lima, as well as locations in Mansfield and one southeast of Columbus. Another 11 locations nationwide that shut down prior to coronavirus-related forced shutdowns will not be reopened, company officials said.

The Logan’s Roadhouse restaurant chain — which was facing serious financial obstacles even before the coronavirus pandemic — has permanently shut down one, and perhaps both, of its large Dayton-area restaurants.

The situation with the second Southwest Ohio location in Troy, is murkier, but the signs are not encouraging. Like the Miami Twp. location, it is no longer listed as a restaurant location on the Logan’s Roadhouse web site. The restaurant itself has multiple commercial realty signs recently installed around it indicating that the site is “Available.”