Louisville restaurants reopen dining rooms to reduced traffic as expected

Louisville restaurants reopen dining rooms to reduced traffic as expected
Restaurants are open to at least 30% capacity. (Source: WAVE)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Many restaurants across Kentucky partially reopened their dining rooms Friday under Gov. Beshear’s Healthy at Work Plan.

Bill DuBourg, owner of 80/20 at Kaelin’s in Louisville, tells WAVE 3 he didn’t know what to expect save for reduced traffic. Initially, he only wanted to reopen the outdoor patio seating of his restaurant.

“We thought the open-air aspect would be something people would appreciate,” DuBourg said.

On Saturday, rain showers pushed patrons inside where tables were waiting at least six feet apart, hand sanitizer was available and masks are required upon entry. The weather, ultimately pushed DuBourg to conduct an impromptu trial run of the social distancing measures he had implemented indoors.

“Our idea was for this first weekend … make sure that our staff was comfortable and that the guests we could get into our building were comfortable as well” he said.

DuBourg said 80/20 at Kaelin’s experienced roughly 25 percent of the traffic it would normally see. Carryout orders still accounted for nearly 50 percent of business

According to DuBourg, the slower start helped his staff ease into new guidelines while providing an opportunity to plan for the future.

“We’re going to think about what happened this weekend, what worked, what didn’t work,” he said. “If we can open up next week full on lunch, dinner – that’s what we’ll do.”

On Baxter Ave., the staff at Agave & Rye also spent the weekend warming up to the changes.

General manager Matthew Buetow tells WAVE 3 he saw roughly the number of patrons he expected.

“It felt like it was the perfect amount as a first run for our staff to practice what they’ve been learning,” Buetow said.

Like many other restaurants, Agave & Rye is prioritizing patio space to keep dinner parties separated. Inside, groups are being kept more than six feet apart although patrons are not required to wear masks.

Buetow said people often have to wait for a table at Agave & Rye on the weekend but the new normal has brought a slower pace and time to adjust.

“The key point was being as safe as possible through it, managing it, because this is something that we’re not used to at all,” Buetow said. “We want this place to be an escape, we want people to come in and not have to worry.”

Outdoor patio space at Agave & Rye has the capacity to hold 120 people while indoor seating is limited to 55 people.

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