TOLEDO, Ohio - An Ohio restaurant mentioned last week by President Barack Obama as an indirect beneficiary of the government's Chrysler bailout will go out of business Sunday after a more than 70-year history.
Co-owner Richard Lawrence of New Chet's Restaurant in Toledo said Thursday that business has fallen victim to the economy and the workplace smoking ban approved by Ohio voters in 2006. He told CBS News the biggest hit came from the ban, and that when evening drinkers stopped coming in to light up he had to scale back operating hours.
He told The Blade newspaper of Toledo that auto industry cutbacks also hurt. Lawrence said he used to deliver up to $300 in food per week to Chrysler Group LLC's Jeep plant in Toledo, but now that's down to about $100 worth.
Lawrence, who said he has been unable to cook since being shot during a 2008 robbery, told CBS News it would be good for a "young couple" to buy the space and keep it as a restaurant, because he said there is a lot of potential and lots of commercial activity.
Lawrence told The Blade that his restaurant did see a one-day boom during the president's visit to the city Friday.
"It was busier than heck," he said. "Some people waited there for three hours. My parking lot was jammed."
Obama visited the local Chrysler plant and told workers that without them, who would eat at Chet's or patronize other local businesses?
However the president had lunch at another restaurant also mentioned in his speech, stopping at Rudy's Hot Dog, a Toledo institution where the president ordered one of their famous chili dogs with mustard, onion and cheese, insisted on paying himself, and shook hands all around.