Restaurants Impacted Differently by Loss of Diners
By Bill Hughes
WESTERN KENTUCKY - The recent decision by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear to close dining rooms of restaurants to abide by CDC Social Distancing guidelines means those in charge have had to change their strategy for the foreseeable future. 

Larry Rust at Paducah's Pizza Inn says 42 of 79 employees have been laid off and have filed for unemployment.

Governor Beshear waived the waiting period for anyone affected by his Executive Order, so they can immediately apply for benefits. 

Rust said, "It affects our hosts, our wait staff, our dishwashers, our salad bar personnel, the people that take care of stocking the buffets and the hot bars and dessert bars. So, yeah, it's hitting pretty hard."

Rust said Pizza Inn is open for carry-out, delivery and curbside pickup. Customers can call them at 270-442-7105, order online or use EZCater for larger groups.

Rust said the pandemic had already affected Pizza Inn's business by about 26 percent before the dining room closed.

"It really started on Thursday of last week. That's when we saw the downturn. We were rocking and rolling up until Wednesday, and then after that, man, the lights went out," Rust said. 

For now, he's just trying to break even by staying open. 

Ann Martin of Patti's 1880's in Grand Rivers says over 100 employees have been affected by the closure, and, "pretty much every one," of them has filed for unemployment. She said the situation has broken the restaurant's momentum since they reopened in November after being closed for a year-and-a-half.

"It's heartbreaking that we're back in the situation where we've had to let employees go again. You know, we just came back from the fire, and were just building back with our employee base," Martin said. "We had reservations that we've had to cancel, and it's kind of going back to where we were, and we never thought we'd be in this position again and here we are. But our prayers are out for all the people that this is really affecting. That's the main thing, is everybody's health. It's what's most important."

Martin said for now, 28 members of Patti's management are continuing to work - cooks, kitchen managers, dining room managers, and other leadership - as they transition to this new operational method. She's hoping it will do well enough to bring some employees back.

"As we see that it's something that's going to grow, and that we're doing well with, then we'll have to add to it," Martin said.
Patti's Curbside and T. Lawson's Curbside will be operational on Thursday, March 26 by calling 270-362-8844. They hope to have details worked out so they can provide delivery within a 25 mile radius soon. 

A full menu will not be available, but will focus on family meals. However, Martin said they will be sure to include some fan favorites like pork chops, flower pot bread, and desserts. 

A full menu will not be available, but will focus on family meals. However, Martin said they will be sure to include some fan favorites like pork chops, flower pot bread, and desserts. 

Cathy Elliott works with Mike Love, who owns ten McDonald's restaurants in western Kentucky and southern Illinois. She says they're fortunate because they haven't had to let anyone go.

Elliott said, "Because we have shifted to the drive-through, that means that we need, 'all hands on deck,' because there's more work to be done in a different way." 

Their customers can use the drive through window, order on the McDonald's app and get curbside delivery, or they can use DoorDash to have it delivered.

Elliott said so far, the stores are staying very busy, but she doesn't know how sales compare to before. 

"I think everybody has the same common goal of taking care of the community and helping all of those people who have to be out. They depend on us, so we need to be there to help them," Elliott said. 

Elliott said curbside and drive through at McDonald's are contact-free services. That means all cups will be in drink carriers and people are keeping social distancing guidelines as much as possible.

"We want to keep our employees safe, as well as our customers, but we also know that we need to keep those jobs moving," Elliott said.

Published 07:47 PM, Thursday Mar. 19, 2020
Updated 07:14 AM, Saturday Mar. 21, 2020



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