Small restaurants struggling to keep workers during coronavirus shutdown

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — At The Lox Bagel Shop, owner Kevin Crowley said because of amazing support from his customers over the past several days, he hasn’t had to lay off any employees… yet.

“It’s going to happen,” Crowley said. “There’s no way around it in terms of when you project this thing out how long we’re actually going to be down for. That’s our biggest fear is we just don’t know.”

The state says 48,000 claims for unemployment benefits have been filed since Sunday, when the order was issued to close all bars and restrict restaurants to carryout or delivery only. That’s 40 times the number of claims filed in the same amount of time a week ago.

Kimberly Hall, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), said the state is also hoping to connect unemployed workers with new job openings in delivery services, call centers, and logistics.

“There are other industries that are rapidly accelerating and need additional support,” Hall said. “So we’re thinking of ways of how to communicate out as rapidly as we can to Ohioans those opportunities for re-entering the workforce in different industry spaces.”

Nicole Davis, owner of Native Cold-Pressed juice bar in the Short North, made the decision to voluntarily shut down.

“We just feel like we want to be part of the solution to flatten the curve and make sure that our customers are safe and that our staff is safe and we just think it’s the most responsible decision right now to shut our doors completely,” Davis said.

Davis said the decision to shut down will put 20 employees out of work. She says she’s urged them all to file for unemployment benefits.

ODJFS is instructing employers planning layoffs or shutdowns as a result the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to share the following mass lay-off number with their employees to speed the processing of unemployment benefits: 2000180. 

Ohioans can apply for unemployment online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at It also is possible to file by phone at (877) OHIO-JOB (1-877-644- 6562) or TTY at (888) 642-8203, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Employers with questions should email

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