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Kentucky restaurants allowed to increase indoor seating capacity to 50 percent

Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 1:24 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A month ago, restaurants were allowed to reopen to in-person dining across the commonwealth.

Monday marks another big milestone for Kentucky’s restaurant industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of 33-percent, restaurants can now fill up to half capacity.

Some restaurant owners, however, tell WKYT that they aren’t’ going to open to 50%.

While talking with some owners over the last several weeks, they’ve made it clear opening to just a fraction of their capacity, just isn’t worth it.

Some restaurants, like Lexington’s Bourbon and Toulouse, and Sawyer’s Grill downtown, are just opting to continue to do carry out and keep their dining areas closed until they can fill them to 100% capacity.

" 60% of our business is already carry-out and soda. At 40%, that was really not that big of a stretch. The first week was a little awkward in a learning experience like everyone else,” says Will Pierett, co-owner of Bourbon and Toulouse.”

Then, some restaurants that have bigger dining areas or a lot of outdoor space, are moving forward. Adding tables slowly day by day instead of jumping into 50%.

It’s hard for a lot of places to make sure people are spread out at least six feet and 33% seems to follow that guideline perfectly.

“We have no more tables today than we had yesterday,” explains Rob Ramsey, owner of Ramsey’s Diner. “The 50% has no effect on us if you maintain, at least in the configuration of our restaurant, if you maintain a 6-foot clearance between tables we can’t add any more than what we have.”

" Our capacity here is 54 and so, to try to move even let’s say 20-25 people in here, would interfere with our ability to expedite the carry-out, and I think it would just make it uncomfortable for the diners and it would make it inefficient for my crew. You know, we would be literally tripping over each other,” says Pierett.

The owner of Ramsey’s says he doesn’t even think his restaurants are at 33% yet.

He estimates it’s more like 24% and the six-foot guideline is the bottom line which determines how many customers they can have.

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