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Colder months could lead to 4,000 Michigan restaurants permanently closing, report says

As Michigan moves further towards winter and it starts to get colder outside, people will be using outdoor social zones less and less.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As the colder months roll in, Michigan restaurant and bar owners are starting to worry.

"I'm very concerned," says Bobby Johnson, owner of The Apartment Lounge. "I mean, we all should be."

Downtown Grand Rapids businesses like The Apartment Lounge are already finding creative ways to bring in business through the pandemic.

"What we're doing every Tuesday is bringing in different food trucks to share the love," says Johnson. "We're doing brunches on Sunday now using Osteria Rossa around the corner."

But as Michigan moves closer towards winter and it starts to get colder outside, people will be using outdoor social zones less and less.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association estimates 4,000 restaurants likely won't survive past February of 2021. That's nearly 22% of all restaurants in the state. To avoid becoming one of them, Apartment Lounge owner Bobby Johnson says he needs help from the city.

"We're looking at the city getting new barricades which would allow us to do tenting options, which would allow us to do some infrared heating," he says.

Johnson also needs help from the community. He hopes that because he can't have people inside his bar, even if it's cold outside, people will throw on a sweater and join him outdoors.

"Support everybody who is local," says Johnson. "If they have a patio, please sit on it. Please eat, please drink, please enjoy. This is our hometown. This is Grand Rapids and we have to be here when we make it through COVID."

Beginning Tuesday, restaurant employees can also apply for help through the Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund. Up to $500 will be granted to those who meet the requirements. For information on how to apply, click here.

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