Mamma DiSalvo’s owner, COVID-19 survivor, urges Governor “to listen to us,” keep restaurants open

Mamma DiSalvo’s owner, COVID-19 survivor, urges Governor “to listen to us,” keep restaurants open

KETTERING — As Gov. Mike DeWine mulls whether to again shut down bars, restaurants, and fitness centers amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the owner of popular Kettering restaurant Mamma DiSalvo’s is weighing in.

Bobby DiSalvo talked with News Center 7 after he said he also spoke with the owners of Oakwood Club and Old Hickory BBQ, also popular Miami Valley restaurants.

He, and the owners of those businesses, he said, are extremely concerned about what another industry closure would mean.

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“It would just kill it,” DiSalvo told News Center 7′s Sean Cudahy. “We’re voicing our opinions because we can’t be shut down.”

Restaurants were among the many businesses across Ohio that had to shut down this spring – with the exception of takeout service – as the pandemic began.

Mamma DiSalvo’s reopened in the spring, but spent weeks closed this summer when DiSalvo himself contracted coronavirus; an experience he said brings perspective as he tries to balance financial needs – of his family his business, and his staff – and the health concerns the pandemic presents.

“I had 10 days of 101 (degree) fever straight. And it was awful my body ache, cough had to go to the emergency room a couple of times,” DiSalvo said, expressing gratitude to be fully recovered. “I’m blessed every day, absolutely. Because you don’t know what it does. Look, from young to old, it takes lives. You don’t know.”

But DiSalvo also believes there can be a balancing act that would allow businesses like him to remain open – even as cases in Ohio surge to an all-time high: a record 8,000-plus new cases on Friday.

Part of the reason DeWine said he is eyeing restaurants, bars, and gyms as possible industries to temporarily close is because of the nature of them, he said: all involve people inherently not wearing masks, and spending extended time on the premises; a risk, he said the data shows.

But since the spring, Mamma DiSalvo’s – like many businesses - has gone to removed tables to allow for wider spacing, added barriers between booths, reduced bar stools, and added outdoor (now tent-covered and heated ) parking lot seating…not to mention a $1,800 touchless thermometer at the hostess stand.

DiSalvo encouraged DeWine to think about the impact another shutdown would have on businesses and their workers.

“My servers, they rely on the income coming in for their families. As well as my cooks. As well as everyone else in the business. We rely on customers coming in,” DiSalvo said, adding he believes the industry can operate safely despite the challenges.

“I’m going to urge the governor to listen to us,” he said.

DeWine did not provide a threshold for what it would take for Ohio to avoid these industry closures he threatened in his statewide address Wednesday, but promised an update Thursday, Nov. 19.