Kentucky restaurants forced to make tough decisions during pandemic

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – A well-known Lexington restaurant says it could stay closed for the next few months, and it’s just the latest restaurant forced to make these difficult decisions because of the pandemic.

The President of Kentucky Restaurant Association Stacy Roof says for a lot of businesses, moving to takeout only, just isn’t working.

“It doesn’t even get them to break even because they’re still using the equipment. They’re still using the electricity, they’re still turning the lights on,” Roof said.

This week we learned the owners of the Merrick Inn were choosing to close their in-person and curbside dining, effectively shutting down the restaurant. They said this would last until the spring or until they receive some relief from the governor’s mandates.

“I think operators for the most part are just terrified. They’re worried about their employees. They had to lay people off again,” Roof said.

While they won’t be serving food, the Merrick Inn will be selling gift cards. That’s something a lot of business owners have said the public can do to help them during the winter.

“It cost us nothing to do gift cards. So that’s why it’s sort of like free money coming in with us putting nothing out towards it,” said Heather Trump, one of the owners at The Cellar.

Trump is one of the owners of The Cellar and both Shamrock’s locations. She says she understands why Merrick’s owners are pausing their service, since they can’t seat people inside.

“This is the time of year they make their money. They have Christmas parties. For them it’s huge. For us here it’s huge, we have two private dining rooms. We have UK basketball on 47 TVs,” Trump said.

She and her husband bought more than $1,200 in gift cards from other restaurants. They’ll be holding a raffle, adding their own gift cards, and giving the money they raise to their employees.

She also said the governor is welcome to join them for dinner.

“If Andy wants to show us how much he’s in it with us and we’re in this together I wanted to see him and his family sitting at a tent like mine in 27° weather enjoying dinner,” Trump said.

The governor’s mandates run until at least December 13th.

A group of Louisville restaurant owners have started a petition asking others to join them in reopening on the 14th, whether the mandate has been extended or not.

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