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Restaurant owners balancing full capacity with staffing shortages

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:08 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A year ago, Lexington restaurants reopened to a very different world.

Friday, restrictions went out the window. J Render’s Southern Table and Bar co-owner Gwyn Everly said she planned to open at 100% capacity.

Gone are the days of spaced out tables, flood markings, and plastic utensils. Live music is back, with local band Whiskey River playing Friday night. Everly said she the atmosphere feels normal.

“When we had the live music and people wanted to dance, it was like, awkward with the mask and just to be able to get up and mingle, see someone you know, walk up to their table and speak to them,” she said.

Like many others nationwide, the restaurant has staffing issues.

“We’ve been able to staff in the front, but we are searching and seeking people to work in the kitchen,” Everly said. “We are closed on Sundays right now because otherwise our staff would be working seven days a week.”

Everly said doesn’t anticipate turning anyone away going forward. She said the biggest difference so far is the feeling in the air.

“We just don’t have to worry so much. So, if someone comes in and doesn’t have a mask on, are they vaccinated? Are they not? Are they this? That’s a little stressful for the staff, what they’re supposed to do. I think that the stress level is less,” Everly said.

Everly and other owners are asking customers to be patient. She said it may take longer to get your food, but it’s important to go out and support a locally-owned restaurant this weekend.

“I always encourage people to ask who the manager on duty is, and have a conversation with them,” she said. “We will literally bend over backwards to fix or make anything right that has gone wrong in your visit.”

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