Lexington restaurants adapt as new indoor dining ban begins

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 6:08 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Indoor dining took a hiatus starting at 5:00 this evening.

Only outdoor dining, curbside and to-go service are permitted until Sunday, Dec. 13.

Like most restaurants, downtown eatery Corto Lima is navigating through its dining room being empty again.

“It’s kind of like having ghost customers,” Director of Marketing and Events Brie Lowry Cox said.

No more wining and dining for Kentucky restaurants.

“We made a pivot in 24 hours from the closure, we had a full dining room last night and today, we’re going to roll right into this,” Lowry Cox said.

Many corners have turned into drive-thrus.

“Usually on Friday nights we would go out, so we’re just going to do takeout,” customer Chris Boggs said, who ordered curbside pickup Friday night.

It’s round two for Corto Lima’s curbside model and this time, it’s expanded.

“We offer pre-order that you can order any time of day up until 3:00 in the afternoon, and then at 4:00 we go live on the website,”Lowry Cox said.

Restaurants are going to social media to share the specials. One customer Drew Templeton found his dinner on Instagram.

“We’ve been doing some COVID-friendly road trips this summer, and we have our dogs with us, so we’re getting food to go,” Templeton said.

He said he’s supporting local joints, doing it right across the country.

“Des Moines is a little bit looser with the mask mandate, so it’s actually kind of nice for us to go to places that are a bit more into it,” Templeton said.

Restaurant staff said the transition has its sour moments.

“We will continue to get feedback from tonight’s group and see how we can continue to refine. It’s never perfect, the internet’s not always working,” Lowry Cox said.

Tips usually range from 20 to 25 percent of the bill but tonight some patrons are paying servers 30 percent because they feel sorry for what they’re going through. Some servers could even get $100 bills.

“As long as we can afford to do it, we’ve made a commitment to order out and to tip at least 25 percent,” Boggs said.

Boggs changed Friday night dinners out, to Friday night dinners in.

“Whether it’s gift card sales or tequila or financial grant money, is all part and parcel of how we continue to be here and ride this out,” Lowry Cox said.

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