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Michigan restaurants struggle with "takeout only" Thanksgiving

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This is normally one of the busiest times of the year for Michigan restaurants and bars. 

Not this year.

The state health department’s three week ban on indoor dining to curb a surge in COVID-19 cases is forcing many to turn to takeout orders to survive.

But takeout orders are straining many restaurants.

“So we’re going to serve 2,000 people and normally we would serve 7,000 people,” says Amy Zehnder Grossi, the general manager of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant in Frankenmuth. “That’s certainly not going to be a positive thing to our bottom line. However, we are grateful that we can just still service the guests that we can.”

There are some restaurant owners who are refusing to shut down their indoor dining.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association is suing to have the temporary indoor dining ban lifted.  There is a hearing scheduled on the lawsuit on Monday.

Until the order is lifted, MRLA president Justin Winslow is encouraging Michiganders to support their local restaurants by ordering takeout. 

"We implore everyone to show gratitude for their favorite restaurants this holiday season by getting Thanksgiving to-go," says Winslow. "Ordering takeout could make the difference between a restaurant keeping their doors open or closing their doors permanently.”

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.