COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Restaurant industry leaders in Ohio are trying to help put extra money in the pockets of restaurant owners and their workers as they face a critical week ahead.

With the holidays approaching, as well as a possible shutdown, restauranteurs are encouraging people to think about their favorite restaurants during a challenging time.

“Columbus is a foodie city, it really is,” says Ohio Restaurant Association President John Barker.

“If you drive around Columbus, go up and down High Street, you see a lot of boarded up businesses, you see a lot of papered up businesses,” adds Barker, who believes that foodie reputation could come under threat.

Baker said the association is doing what it can to help restaurants stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re trying to get them through this, to come out the other side,” he said. “Another shutdown for restaurants in central Ohio would be just devastating.”

It’s why the Ohio Restaurant Association launched the #DineSafelyAcrossOhio campaign– an effort to boost restaurant owner’s bottom lines this week.

“If you’re dining in, you know, please do that this week. Maybe go once more than your normal amount,” Barker explains.

For those not comfortable dining in, many restaurants, like “FUSIAN,” are still taking part by providing cost-effective alternatives that allow customers to still enjoy their favorite dish.

“We’re offering 99-cent delivery through our app, for the foreseeable future as we work through winter,” said FUSIAN owner Stephan Harman.

Restaurants across Ohio will be offering up similar deals throughout the week prior to Thanksgiving — one that has been particularly difficult in the past.

“A lot of people are already home and hunkered down with their families,” Harman said.

But as many restaurant owners prepare for what they feel is an inevitable shutdown, they remain steadfast in their commitment to safety.

“We’re looking at restaurants in a completely different light this year as we seek to make diners happy in new and, I would say, innovative ways,” Harman adds.

Nearly 585,000 people work in the restaurant industry in Ohio.

Restaurant industry leaders said many of those jobs are under a lot of pressure, and many of those individuals are hurting, which is why they initiated the campaign.

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