LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On Friday, restaurants across Kentucky were able to open to dine-in customers for the first time in months.
Gov. Andy Beshear mandated restaurants only open at 33 percent capacity, and practice social distancing and enhanced safety protocol. Those mandates have forced restaurant owners to get creative with seating, to maximize the number of customers they can fit in their dining rooms.
Michael Coe is the owner of Highland Morning on Bardstown Road. Though he’s been given the ‘all-clear’ to open, Coe told WAVE 3 News his restaurant is too small for customers to practice social distancing, forcing him to continue carry-out and delivery options only.
“Oh man, we’re [usually] gangbusters in May," Coe said. "This is, this is pretty devastating what’s happened here.”
To find more space, Coe has talked to other business owners and city leaders about temporarily turning the parking lane of Bardstown Road into a parklet, a sidewalk extension that would give Coe and other business owners more space for outdoor seating. Coe told WAVE 3 News without the extra seating, his business might not survive.
“We have 100 percent of our overhead, and 33 percent revenue isn’t going to cut it," Coe said. "We’re not greedy. We’re just in survival mode.”
The idea originated with Shawn Reilly, the president of the Tyler Park Neighborhood Association, after he talked to several restaurant owners in the neighborhood. Reilly told WAVE 3 News he’s spoken to city leaders about the idea, and says they’re making progress.
“What can the city do, what can the neighborhood do, to help these businesses and give them a fighting chance at saving their businesses," Reilly asked.
That said, the City of Louisville can not make the final call.
Bardstown Road is considered a state road, thus permission to transform it would have to come from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
WAVE 3 News talked to a KYTC spokesperson, who said conversations between state and city leaders began this week, and though Louisville has not yet submitted a written proposal, KYTC would be willing to discuss a temporary plan.
“It would be huge," Coe said. "It would be a total gamechanger for us.”