NKY restaurants adjusting to new normal as coronavirus regulations take hold

Bars, restaurants trying to survive and serve with new restrictions

COVINGTON, Ky. (FOX19) - It’s an unusual sight, but it’s the new normal in Ohio and Kentucky: Diners with empty seats; bars abandoned during happy hour; popular restaurants locking their doors during peak dinner times.

Brad Wainscott owns Libby’s Southern Comfort on West 8th Street in Covington.

“I think that a lot of us are still in shock," Wainscott said. "It’s pretty devastating honestly. Overnight we’ve almost lost all of our staff,.”

He adds it was frightening to hear that all restaurants are being forced to shut down their dining rooms, but says it was even more difficult notifying his staff.

“There’s 37 employees, so right now we’ve basically tried to convey to everyone to go ahead and file for unemployment, which I know in Kentucky they are doing something to rapidly speed up the unemployment process right now," Wainscott said.

On Monday morning Governor Andy Beshear ordered all bars and restaurants to close by 5 p.m., only allowing customers to purchase food for takeout or delivery.

”We’re going to do everything we can to help with the financial impact," Beshear said. “It’s not lost on me that most of these are small businesses."

Wainscott says although he’s worried about his business, he’s also concerned for his employees and other business owners in town.

“We talked to a friend who’s in the business today, and he had $30,000 worth of inventory for St. Patty’s day. Now he’s shut down. He’s in a bar business you know. It’s scary,” Wainscott said.

The scariest thing of all, he explains, is the uncertainty: “Not knowing what’s going to happen is probably one of the biggest fears.”

One thing Wainscott is certain he has control over: “I’m going to be slinging chicken and have a smile on my face doing it.”

All while hoping to stay afloat until he can return to business as normal and rehire his employees.

Starting Tuesday through Saturday, Libby’s Southern Comfort will do carryout orders of fried chicken and goetta hushpuppies with all the sides. Orders can be placed from 4-8 p.m.

If it goes well the owner says he'll expand the menu.

He also says if you don’t feel comfortable eating out right now you can buy a gift card to use later when the virus is under control.

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