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COVID closures hit local restaurants hard – The Advocate-Messenger

By on March 23, 2021 0

Owners and staff are considering a week open after the second closing

When Gov. Andy Beshear passed an executive order banning indoor seating from Nov. 20 to Dec. 13, local restaurants braced for a second closure after the first had already dealt a blow to their business. Unlike the first longer shutdown, the restaurants did not have a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans. They did, however, have the option of applying for $10,000 per restaurant through the Team Kentucky Food and Beverage Relief fund, which came out of $40 million in federal coronavirus relief funds. Restaurants have had to roll with the punches, close indoor restaurants and reopen depending on the severity of the spread of COVID-19 and state regulations. The messenger-advocate spoke to people at local restaurants about how they made the transition.

At Harvey’s
Alex McCrosky, owner of Harvey’s with his wife, AnnYager McCrosky, said business was down about 40% from a year ago. Harvey’s held up relatively well during the first shutdown, he said, thanks to the loyalty of customers who ordered takeout and with “a lot of help” from PPP loans.

“The only reason we’re still here is because of our customers,” he said.

During the second shutdown, however, Harvey’s shut down completely, even its takeout, for about two weeks. Since there was no PPP for the second round, McCrosky said the restaurant was unable to make ends meet. Additionally, some staff have contracted COVID-19 and the company has made the decision to temporarily close its doors so staff can get tested and self-quarantine. It was pretty easy to close then, he said, because everything on offer was takeout at the time.

Harvey’s reopened on December 15, strictly adhering to the 50% capacity rule and wearing masks on the restaurant floor. Business was sporadic in reopening indoor seating. People can’t do much, McCrosky said, and the capacity directive has made it difficult.

“The restaurant business is hard enough to make money at 100%, much less at 50.”

Between the first and second indoor dining stops, this photo was taken from outdoor seating. The barrels pictured were donated by Wilderness Trail Distillery, and the music and outdoor seating were donated in part to give patrons who had gone crazy during the pandemic something to do, AnnYager McCrosky said. – Photo submitted

McCrosky said Harvey’s requested relief funds during the second shutdown and received the $10,000.

“Any help is greatly appreciated, but at the end of the day, $10,000 for a restaurant of this size or really any downtown restaurant is just a drop in the ocean” , did he declare. “The state is doing everything it can, and I understand that. Hopefully there will be a second round of paycheck protection coming.

The second $900 billion coronavirus relief bill as it stands, which passed Congress on Monday, Dec. 21, has been criticized by President Donald Trump over its offer of checks stimulus of 600 dollars. Trump called on Congress to raise them to $2,000, according to The Washington Post. The bill also includes about $284 billion for P3s for small businesses across the country, according to Forbes.

PPP loans are the only reason Harvey made it through the first stop, McCrosky said. He said he thought there would be another shutdown at the beginning of the year “unless the vaccine goes very, very well”, and he said that if there was, “there there’s going to have to be some sort of small business forgivable loan.”

McCrosky said he appreciated not only the customers but also the staff during this time because they know the business needs them to operate. It’s hard to look at them and ask them to shoulder the burden of the business, he said.

“At the end of the day, these are real people working for us, and they have real lives, real problems, and real bills,” he said.

At Giovanni’s
Marissa Cummins is a waitress at Giovanni’s, a chain of local-owned individual restaurants. She sees another side of business as a staff member. She said staff had no problem receiving the necessary personal protective equipment, and she said the buffet is set up so customers can get their pizza with spatulas, which are kept on a clean plate so they can be reused, and everything else is self-served.

“Other than that, we’ve done everything we can to help prevent the spread, but we always remain open,” she said. “It has been a struggle, but we are still hanging on to be able to stay open. We are happy to be open and want everyone to come here to see us and enjoy the food and drink.

After the second stop, Cummins said she thought the restaurant would be busy when it reopened, but food service was slow. She said she thinks maybe it’s because people are still scared.

Around Christmas, however, customers tipped well, and she said while she didn’t work with pick-up and delivery herself, she knew those aspects of the business had been pretty steady since March. , when the closures first began.

Melton’s Deli – Main Street
Gina Melton, co-owner of Melton’s Deli on Main Street, said business was down about 30-40% from a year ago as it relied heavily on indoor dining. She said that during the closings, she and the others who work there — it’s largely family-run, she said — showed up for work each day, and customers showed up. for takeout. The restaurant followed the guidelines and executive orders when they were issued, she said.

“Our customers have been very supportive of us and we’ve been fortunate to have a local community that values ​​small business,” she said.

One aspect of the business that has taken a big hit is catering. Normally Melton’s Deli would serve a few times a week for offices and other venues, but now that people are discouraged from gathering in large groups this has been phased out.

She said most of her family members who work at Melton’s Deli are of retirement age, but she sympathizes with restaurant workers who have young children at home or in other circumstances. She feels for large restaurants that have a staff of 30 to 40 people with this job as their main source of income. Having to tell workers their jobs are in jeopardy would be horrible, she said.

“It’s hard for me to be anything other than grateful for my situation through this, even though it’s been a financial strain,” Melton said.