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Indiana restaurant industry facing ‘extinction’ event

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Restaurants are in dire straits, and without help, they may not last much longer.

"We've laid off nearly 250,000 people in the state of Indiana," said Patrick Tamm, and industry advocate based in Indianapolis. "Some of those were furloughs, but many of those furloughs we've terminated, unfortunately," he continued.

Tamm spoke to Brien McElhatten on the latest edition of the ABC21 Daily podcast. He said 30% of Indiana's restaurants have closed since the pandemic began and more could follow if lawmakers don't extend benefits, like loans, to the owners.

"The time for politics is done. We need help now," he said.

Academics are also predicting a terrible year for restaurants if help doesn't come. Preliminary findings from a Ball State University study mirror what Tamm said on the podcast.

 “If Indiana officials decide the state must reimpose restrictions to mitigate the spread of the pandemic—which may include reducing hours or further limiting seating—many restaurants will close for good. Most can’t survive on just providing take-out," said Professor Sotiris Hji-Avgoustis.

In a last-ditch effort to stay alive, some restaurants are getting creative. The staff at Hop River Brewing in Fort Wayne are delivering beer to customers' homes over the weekend.

"Because we're struggling," said one staff member. "We're constantly looking for ways for people to enjoy beer."

To learn more about the issue, listen to Friday's episode of the ABC21 Daily. You can listen below or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

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