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Ann Arbor Restaurant Community Feels Painful Impact From Coronavirus Pandemic

Baru, Saginaw

Many local restaurants have had to close or lay off employees due to the current ban on in-house dining.

WEMU’s Lisa Barry spoke with local restaurateurs Adam Baru, the owner of Mani Oseria, Isalita, and Mikkette Bistro & Bar, and Paul Saginaw, co-owner of Zingerman's, about the impact the coronavirus crisis has had here in Ann Arbor, and what’s being done about it.

Baru says the situation is “pretty dire,” and how they come out of this could change everything.

Saginaw agrees, saying it has been "absolutely devastating" to the entire Zingerman's chain, and business is down between 70 and 100 percent.

“This is the single biggest event of our lifetime, and there’s no road map for it,” Saginaw says.  “Everyone’s doing the best they can.”

Baru says the managers at his businesses have agreed to donate to a fund for employees, and he’s stopping his own salary until this is all sorted out.

Baru and Saginaw both fear they’ll run out of money and will have to close permanently.

"It is much more serious than most people can get their heads around, and if we do not receive help very, very quickly and very, very large, most people will not re-emerge from that," Saginaw says.

“It’s hard to make a decision when there are so many unknowns,” Baru says.

Saginaw is urging the community to go out and support the businesses that are in town and says it's safe to order food from a restaurant.

He says that professional kitchens are cleaned repeatedly and are often safer than one in a typical home.

"It's very, very safe and very hygienic, and we know how to do this, because it's mandated by law that we have to do this all the time," Saginaw says.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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