Kentucky restaurants welcome customers back inside after Beshear’s mandate expires

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(WDKY)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – For the first time in three weeks, restaurants around the commonwealth can welcome patrons back inside.

Governor Beshear’s mandate closing indoor dining expired Sunday night at midnight.

At Winchell’s, in Lexington, there’s been a flow of customers coming in and out of the restaurant and most of them are sitting down to enjoy their food which they can now.

Co-owner Graham Waller says that is a relief.

Waller told us they tried to adapt to carryout and even looked into delivery during the three-week shutdown, but, even still, the financial impact was severe.

Waller says, during the shutdown, Winchell’s lost about 85-90% of its profits. He says some employees had to go on unemployment and the ones that stayed on had their hours cut back significantly to keep the restaurant afloat.

He said this shut down was worse than the initial shutdown because he says the funding wasn’t there to help. Essentially, he says they were told to fend for themselves for three weeks.

“The first time it covered bills, it covered rent, and it covered payroll,” Waller said. “So, for 6-7 weeks we were, you know, everyone got their paychecks, the rent was paid, and the bills were paid. It was worrisome because the virus was a little more unknown back then, but, financially, we weren’t really feeling the pressure at that point. This was scarier.”

Waller says now begins the works of recovering after that shutdown, and that could take a while.

He says that, as it stands, he thinks there are a number of restaurants that would be hard-pressed to survive another local shutdown without the proper funding to support them.

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