PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The restaurant industry, one of the biggest employers in the region, is now facing dire consequences.

KDKA’s Paul Martino reports many restaurant experts believe more than a third of area eateries may close for good. Experts he’s spoken with believe as many as 20, 30 of even 40 percent of area restaurants are closing for good.

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The restaurant industry had been decimated by the pandemic. Restaurants that have been around for decades, like Alexander’s in Bloomfield, won’t survive the pandemic.

(Photo Credit: Alexander’s Italian Bistro)

Thousands of servers, bartenders, chefs and more once worked at Pittsburgh-area restaurants. But not anymore. Long time restaurant owners like Ron Sofranko say many of those jobs aren’t coming back.

“Been doing this for 33 years. Couldn’t imagine this would kill our industry like it is,” said Sofranko, a restaurant consultant.

For decades, Kevin Joyce has owned the downtown landmark restaurant the Carlton.

“I’ve seen predictions as high as 40 percent of restaurants will not be able to reopen,” said Joyce.

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He plans to reopen someday, but hes not sure when.

“We believe the Carlton has a future in Pittsburgh, we’re certainly planning to reopen. But the question is when it’s going to be safe to reopen and secondly, when are you going to be able to open to profitably?” he says.

For Joyce, it makes no sense to reopen if there are no workers downtown and no events at the nearby PPG Paints Arena. Sofranko, meanwhile, says plans to gradually reopen with just 25 percent seating won’t work either.

“The reality is, restaurants are not profitable until we’re a hundred percent,” said Sofranko. “You can’t pay your rent, your debt service, your staff, your employees, your utilities until we’re a hundred percent.”

The other hard reality is that folks may not feel safe to go out and dine for a long time.

One other restaurant trend to watch for: many of them may be filing for bankruptcy to hold off their creditors during the pandemic.

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