Michigan restaurant owners make plea for financial relief as indoor dining still on pause

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Monday extended COVID-19 restrictions in the state by 12 more days, meaning indoor dining is still off the table. 

Many restaurant owners were hoping to be able to reopen right before the holidays when they usually see a boom in business. Now, some are seeing losses like never before.

"Some days we do okay and some days we're losing 50 to 60%, if not more," said Jared Kopiczko, the general manager of Red Olive in Ferndale. 

He's had to lay off the majority of his staff and is concerned about their well-being. He believes a new federal stimulus package is well overdue.

"Get it done. There's got to be a bipartisan commitment to get the people their money. People are hurting. The economy is hurting. We need to get this in order," he said.

Other restaurant owners agree.

"Where is the leadership? Right now it's lot of passing the buck and a lot of excuses and a lot of inaction," said Matt Buskard. He owns Bobcat Bonnie's, which has five locations across metro Detroit.

"You can yell at Gov. Whitmer or Lt. Gov. Gilchrist as much as you'd like but really at the end of day states are required to have a balanced budget so they can’t borrow, they can't lend, they can't do anything that the federal government can," Buskard said. 

At Bobcat Bonnie’s Ferndale location, Buskard is making use of an outdoor patio so he can make money off more than carryout service during the pause. But he says even making use of that space has been a challenge.

"Outdoor patio heaters, you can’t even get. And when you do get them the price is, you know, three, four times what they were originally going for," he said. "This tent is about two grand a month on top of our normal rent."

"I urge the members of Congress to get a deal done or, at the very least, extend a deadline on the CAREs Act dollars that we still have available," Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter also said Tuesday at a news conference. 

If a lifeline is not extended, the future for many restaurants could be bleak.

"You’re going to lose people in this way because of divided politics," Buskard said.