When local restaurant owner Moe Mezyed learned another state mandate on dine-in services was around the corner, his first thought was “Here we go again.”
Mezyed is the owner of local franchise The Fish House and Grill, which has locations in Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Shepherdsville.
“Once we felt things are getting back on track, we’ve got to shut down again,” Mezyed said.
Gov. Andy Beshear issued an order Nov. 18 in response to rising COVID-19 cases throughout the state, addressing restaurants, bars and indoor venues. Through the order — which went into effect Nov. 20 and are issued through Dec. 13 — restaurants are prohibited from providing dine-in service to customers. Take-out, delivery and outdoor seating still are allowed.
Beshear also announced a $40 million relief package for locally-owned eateries and bars. Through the relief package, restaurants and bars can receive up to $10,000 if they are not publicly-traded and do not do 50 percent or more of business through drive-thru sales. Businesses with multiple locations can receive up to $20,000.
“Overcoming this shutdown will be very challenging,” Mezyed said. “We are trying to keep our faith and make it work. We know that lives are more important than business bottom lines, so we’d rather keep pushing until we can get back to normal and see family and friends coming to enjoy the real restaurant experience.”
Tony York, owner of Tony York’s on Main in Glendale, said because of the new mandate, he has had to operate with a smaller staff and adjust business hours.
Though his restaurant has outdoor seating, he said falling temperatures have made alfresco dining largely unfeasible, even with heaters on the patio.
York said after dealing with the initial state shutdown of indoor dining in March, he was better prepared for the recent mandate.
“I saw it coming and support our governor,” York said. “It was the responsible thing to do.”
When Deborah Koch, owner of The Wicked Eyed Woman in Elizabethtown, learned of the mandate, she decided to create a grassroots effort to promote local eateries. Koch is the creator of Save the Flavor Hardin County — a Facebook page designed to highlight locally owned restaurants in the Hardin County area.
The page includes frequent updates on specials offered by local eateries.
Koch said the page’s goal is to inspire local consumers to patronize local mom-and-pop establishments amid the new mandate.
“If this keeps up, there’s not going to be many mom and pops left and all we’re going to have around here is corporate restaurants,” she said. “... I’d like for people to understand that it is so important to keep that local identity and not be like everybody else.”
Robin Monroe, general manager for The Original Impellizzeri’s Pizza in Elizabethtown, is an editor for the Save the Flavor Hardin County page. She said because of the new mandate, a vast majority of the Impellizzeri’s staff had to be laid off. She said this put her staff in an unfortunate position, especially as the holidays approach.
“Of course, as our business is concerned, it takes the wind out of all the momentum that we’ve been able to generate since the end of the first shutdown,” Monroe said.
Monroe said ways to help local eateries include prioritizing ordering from locally owned establishments, purchasing their gift cards, sharing local business pages on social media and alerting local businesses to the Save the Flavor Hardin County page to share photos, specials and business information.
“We want every local establishment to be involved,” she said.