New restrictions deepen wounds for local bars, restaurants

Posted at 8:08 PM, Jul 27, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — On Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear ordered that all bars must close for two weeks amid a recent spike in cases of COVID-19.

Starting Tuesday, July 28, freestanding bars will close and restaurants will be limited to 25% capacity indoors. Outside seating can remain as long as social distancing measures are in place.

The new order will be in effect until August 11.

LEX 18 spoke to several local establishments to gauge the response to the new restrictions.

All of the owners and managers agreed that the news was tough to swallow, but that they understand the reason behind the move. Many said safety is their top priority.

"We have to make sure that our staff is safe," Carson's Food and Drink general manager Kyle Zimmerman said. "We want to make sure our guests are safe. We have to make sure we're keeping everyone safe at the end of the day."

"We're going to do everything we can to abide and get through all this, but every one of these decisions, there's still damage done to people," Shamrock Bar & Grille and The Cellar owner C.O. Trump said.

Trump added that the next few weeks will be difficult, especially for his staff, which may face cuts in hours since indoor capacity has been slashed to 25 percent.

"Every one of these decisions costs people's jobs, money, livelihood and it's taken a toll on people mentally also," Trump said. "We're just going to do everything we can to get through it as fast as we can. That's all we can do."

When asked whether he believed any of his three restaurants would anticipate permanent closure if circumstances continue well into the future, and he said: absolutely not.

"It might just be a small group of us hanging on but we won't go down without a fight that's for sure," Trump said.

The next few weeks will be more difficult for freestanding bars since they have to completely shut down.

Whiskey Bear co-owner Daniel Marlowe said it will be tough, but he is hopeful for the future.

"We are cautiously optimistic that things are still going to turn around and hopefully we can all work together to get past the virus and we'll just keep fighting for our business," Marlowe said.

To stay afloat, Whiskey Bear is selling "cocktails to-go." They started selling them after the first closure and said they have become very popular with customers.