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Propane shortage: An unexpected side effect of the pandemic and restaurant mandates

Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 4:21 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - UPDATE: We spoke with someone from a propane distributor on Tuesday. They told us there is plenty of propane. The issue is having enough trucks to deliver them all.

They say, with so much demand right now, filling orders on time is difficult.

PREVIOUS: The pandemic and the mandates from Governor Andy Beshear are having an unexpected side effect, a shortage in propane.

Restaurant owners told WKYT they sometimes have to go to neighboring counties to find fuel to heat their patios.

Despite the chilly temperatures the past few weeks, the owners of Shamrock and The Cellar tell us people are still showing up for happy hour, and are willing to sit outside.

“It was actually two Sundays ago people [were] out there and it was raining, but we were able to put a couple football games on through the NFL package that we couldn’t get locally. And people sit out there in the cold in the drizzle and watch their teams,” said C.O. Trump, Shamrocks and The Cellar.

Seating people outside comes with an added expense. Not only did heaters increase in price.

“The heater, that was $159 last year. This time is over $300 now,” Trump said.

But keeping them running also requires more work, with restaurants across town burning propane.

“It’s slowly got to where people were running out and then when they were out, they were out for longer periods of time,” said Trump.

Trump said, in some cases, they’d get propane from stores in Winchester or Georgetown. The vice president of American Welding and Gas told us compared to this time last year, they’d seen a 50 percent increase in demand for propane.

He said they’ve also seen a shortage of steel cylinders as manufacturers rush to keep up.

For Trump, that gas means his customers can stay warm, and his business can keep running.

“You just, sort of, take it in as a business expense,” Trump said. “You do what you can to make your guests comfortable.”

Trump told us they are building extra patio space at their Patchen location. So, they’ll have more outside seating.

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