Rough road: Frankfort businesses hurting due to road work

Posted at 8:32 AM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 08:32:28-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Rick’s White Lights Diner is pretty popular having been featured on the Food Network’s show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

But even that notoriety hasn’t been enough to help off-set what’s going on outside his Frankfort establishment.

“I make more money not opening than I do opening it,” owner Rick Paul said of his dilemma.

Since January, workers have been ripping up Bridge and Second Streets to replace a century-old sewer system.

Frankfort City Manager Laura Hagg says the work won’t be completed until August of 2022. Rick has been told that at the least, paving on Bridge Street, which is the site of his restaurant, will be completed after Thanksgiving.

“I will take bets now that this won’t be completed by December the first,” he said on Tuesday during lunch hour. When you canvass the area it’s hard not to want to get in on that wager because December 1 does seem awfully optimistic given the current state of the road.

“We’d be busy right now,” he said when asked what the place would look like approaching the lunch hour if conditions were normal. He’s only been opening three days weekly in recent months.

Frankfort, by being a state capitol city, was given a 15 million dollar infrastructure improvement grant, and this is where all of that money is being spent. The nationwide program is called the “greening of America’s capitols.” Business owners, like Rick, were given $10,000 in assistance, but Rick said that’s just a gallon in a 10,000-gallon tank.

“I like the Governor,” Paul said. “I’d like to ask him if there’s possibly more assistance available.”

The boutique owner across the street from the diner was forced to shut down due to a lack of vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and a nearby auto shop had to relocate because people can’t drive their vehicles anywhere near the place. Rick, however, says he’d weather this storm.

“It’s been here forever, and I’ve had it for thirty years and my daughter works with me and she’ll eventually have it. So, no, I’m not closing down,” he stated.

The diner is accessible by foot, but it’s not a pleasant walk, and there are some rough patches.

“It’s dangerous,” Paul said.