Pour decisions: Bar owners have a tough choice to make when it comes to curfew

Posted at 3:14 PM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 20:47:11-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Granting bar and restaurant owners an extra hour to pour drinks might be more boondoggle than profitable action.

"We're not making one dollar after 11 o'clock," said Erick Ostrander, who owns The Paddock on Limestone. "So, (Gov. Andy Beshear) can say we're open until 5 a.m., but what's the point of staying open for free, or even at a cost."

Ostrander spoke with LEX 18 from the construction site that is currently at the back of his establishment. He's building an outdoor seating area in response to the pandemic.

"We're allowed to be at 100% capacity outdoors, and with all the restrictions on the indoor capacity, this seemed like a good idea to get people out," he said of the patio, which he hopes to have completed within the next 10 days, or before the Kentucky-Auburn football game on Sept. 28.

Ostrander is happy to have the extra hour to pour, but said it won't add much to his bottom line. A few miles away, the hour will add nothing, so Blue Stallion Brewing Company will continue to close at 10 p.m.

"We always closed at 11 anyway, so for our business, it hasn't affected us that much," said Blue Stallion owner Kore Donnelly.

Donnelly said the math of staying open a little later didn't add up.

"We would have to split our shifts into two shifts, and for us, that doesn't work out with the number of staff we currently have, and the economics of our business right now," he added.

Donnelly is looking forward to hosting his Oktoberfest, which begins Sept. 25, while Ostrander, who's been very outspoken against the COVID-19 restrictions, will benefit significantly from his $80,000 investment in the patio area. He's not nearly as excited, however, by the added hour of bar service.

"You're either going to catch this virus, or you're not. One hour one way or the other is not the deciding factor," Ostrander said.

It’s left bar owners having to decide if it’s even worth the effort and cost.