LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It hasn’t even been two weeks since Governor Andy Beshear’s COVID-19 indoor dining ban went into effect, but some restaurants have already made plans on what they’ll do if the restrictions are extended past December 13.
More than 3,000 Kentucky restaurant owners and service industry employees signed a petition that says no matter what happens, they will reopen at 50 percent capacity Dec. 14. Among the signatures are owners of Varanese, Taco Luchador and Biscuit Belly. While Chad Coulter, the owner of Biscuit Belly, signed the petition, he doesn’t plan to defy the governor’s orders.
Many restaurants, like Brownie’s the Shed Grille and Bar have struggled throughout the pandemic. Owner Jason Brown said the governor’s most recent order was yet another blow to their bottom line.
“I was shocked,” Brown said. “I wasn’t prepared to get hit with the news he hit us with.”
Brown was forced to get creative to keep his restaurant open. In addition to curbside orders, he removed some of the panels on his back patio and added tents to the side and front of his building. The health department approved the changes, but they still don’t compare to the number of seats he normally has.
“Our profit margins, and this goes for the industry as a whole, they’re just already so small,” Brown said.
While some restaurants plan to reopen on Dec. 14 regardless of the governor’s orders, Brown said he is not one to follow the crowd. Brown did send the petition to his staff in case they wanted to sign it, but he has not decided what he will do if Beshear extends his orders. It will depend, Brown said, on case numbers, hospital capacity and what the governor has to say.
“I’m a big believer in doing the right thing. I want my staff to be safe, and I want my customers to be safe and feel safe, but it’s hard to question things when we’re the only industry that did get hit from this,” Brown said. “When I see you can go to an actual sports game but not a sports bar, you just really start kind of questioning what the motive is, and are they really doing the right thing?”
Until Dec. 13, Brown and many other restaurant owners will have no other choice but to hang on.
“Don’t get me wrong. I love this industry,” Brown said. “I think if I could do it all over again I would, because I think we are going to get past this and hopefully we’ll be one of the ones that does survive this.”
Brown said the best thing people can do to help is support local restaurants, especially their staff. He added this time of year is when most restaurants make much of their revenue for the year.
To view or sign the petition, click here.