LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — With the State's permission, restaurants across Kentucky are gearing up to reopen their dining rooms this Friday.
However, some are choosing to stick with delivery and curbside delivery only.
Bourbon n' Toulouse is one of those.
Co-owner Will Pieratt said the restaurant will open when they are allowed to have 100% capacity in the dining room. On Friday, restaurants that choose to open their dining rooms are required to limit capacity to 33%.
Pieratt and his business partner made the decision to keep the dining room closed for several reasons. First, it makes more financial sense. According to Pieratt, the restaurant actually has more business now than it did pre-pandemic. In fact, they have hired four additional employees to meet the demand. He credits the staff with creating an environment that draws in repeat customers. He said they work fast and are efficient, qualities they learned pre-pandemic when 60% of the business operated through carry out.
Second, Pieratt said there is not enough space to continue curbside operations and host dine-in customers. For example, they are currently using most of the dining room for storage, including cleaning materials and to-go boxes. He also said employees rush in and out of the restaurant's front and back doors to deliver food to curbside customers. This alone would create a chaotic environment for dine-in guests.
"If we have customers trying to come in and out, wait at the counter, place their order, they're going to come over here and try to sit down, we're literally going to be running into each other and kind of tripping over each other a bit, making their experience uncomfortable and making our system here a little more inefficient," Pieratt said.
While business at Bourbon n' Toulouse has increased, Pieratt said he doesn't like the circumstances behind that success. He said they can't wait for the restaurant, and others, to get back to normal.
Corto Lima is another restaurant that has chosen to keep its dining room closed. They released the following statement about the decision:
"Corto Lima will not be opening to the public on May 22. We will continue our service in the curbside pickup model until we feel it is safe for our staff and guests to return to the dining room. Currently we offer curbside pickup twice weekly with pre-order and guest selected pickup times. We offer contactless transactions and our staff wear gloves and masks when approaching vehicles. It is likely we continue to offer curbside pickup for the foreseeable future even with an open dining room."
Parkette Drive In co-owner, Rady Kaplan, told LEX18 in a phone interview that they, too, will keep their dining room closed for the time being.
As for those choosing to reopen their dining rooms, they are prepared, according to the Kentucky Restaurant Association.
“The timeline is quicker than we anticipated, and we’ll need to work through the details of the new guidelines,” said Stacy Roof, KRA President/CEO. “However, our members have long experience following the most rigorous health and safety guidelines. They’ll be ready.”