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Spotlight on Winchester: Community rallies behind local businesses

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Posted at 4:46 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 16:46:04-04

WINCHESTER, Ky. (LEX 18) — The hot ham hoagie at The Engine House smells as good as it tastes. It's one of the menu items, owner Chad Walker made sure to retain when he bought the place last January.

"When we brought it to (former owner) Bob, and said we want to make sure this is exactly the way it was, his comment to us was, 'it even burps the same, so it's perfect,'" Walker said.

Two months after Walker took over the restaurant and made that perfect sandwich, COVID-19 didn't have a reservation, yet it took a seat inside his establishment, along with all the others in town.

"Fortunately the beer taps were on, so we could drown our sorrows that way," he joked, before adding that the community was tremendous about utilizing his curbside pick-up option during lockdowns to help him stay afloat.

And it was like that all over town.

"We had people call not too long after this started and buy gift certificates," said Betty Jane Glasscock, the co-owner of Court Street Gifts. "And I said, 'I don't know if we're going to be open, I don't know what’s going to happen.' They said, 'we don't care.'"

John Howard was a beneficiary too. It didn't take long for the Abettor Brewery to become a local favorite. And it remained that way, even when people couldn't come inside.

"We took a hit like everyone else but we were fortunate to build a pretty good-sized patio that really helped us weather the storm of COVID," he said.

People came, even during the cold weather, and had John pour them a cold one, which they enjoyed under a heater on the patio.

"We have a strong group and they try to go from us to the other restaurants, to the brewery, and just keep that circle going," said Emily Durbin. Durbin has worked for many years at The Engine House and even as her tips dwindled with the smaller crowds, she always tried to shop local.

"If that means I take out from one place, or buy a growler at the brewery, whatever it takes to return that favor," Durbin said. Her words echoed what the city’s Chamber of Commerce Director said, well before we even spoke with Emily.

"We are so giving. We take care of our own," Cindy Banks said proudly. "Community supports community and I think we're very good at that."