LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Beautiful weather in WAVE Country has been a much-needed break for restaurants with outdoor seating that have been struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some restaurant owners and managers are already concerned about the short autumn season and the harsh winter that could follow.
With Kentucky restaurants operating at just 50% capacity indoors, the ability to serve food in the great outdoors has been a real lifeline for those in the business. Restaurant owners like Kevin Grangier and the President and CEO of the Kentucky Restaurant Association Stacy Roof, however, know they have to plan for the future.
Thanks to the summer months and plenty of outdoor seating, Grangier says business at his three restaurants - Village Anchor, Le Moo, and Grassa Gramma - has been steady.
“We added about 50 seats at each restaurant," he explained. "So for other reasons, that’s allowed us to sort of weather the storm.”
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Le Moo and Grassa Gramma actually pulled their 50 seats from parking lots. Grangier has also kept customers coming with constant email offers as well as information updates about restaurant hours and safety.
With all of the restaurateur’s hard work to keep business up this year, he hopes it is enough for the colder months ahead.
“There is a concern as we move into fall if the weather gets a little chillier that we’re going to rely on indoor seating in our indoor dining room which will be at 50% capacity," Grangier said. “I think the issue that a lot of people forget is that it’s just not 50% capacity, it’s 6-foot distancing.”
Roof said six feet between tables is impossible for small restaurants, who also cannot currently sit guests at a bar. She said she knows restaurants appreciate the hour extension from Gov. Andy Beshear’s office, but with football games starting, dropping the curfew altogether would be a big help to Kentucky businesses that have proven they can be responsible.
“At 50%, there’s no money-making going on," she said. “We feel like we are a supervised area, and Dr. Stack has repeatedly said they want people in places that are paying attention to groups and masking and social distancing and all those things, and we do that really well.”
Grangier says while outdoor heaters can help during the colder months and allow outdoor seating to stick around a little longer, they’re expensive. He believes all restaurant owners can really do this winter is offer delicious meals and a safe environment for employees and customers to hopefully persuade loyal diners to come back.
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