A last full night for dining room service had restaurants booked Thursday as customers tried to get in for one last sit-down meal.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear ordered the end of indoor service at restaurants in order to stem the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The order goes into effect Friday at 5 p.m. and took some restaurant managers by surprise.
”You know we’re going into a weekend service, we’ve already geared up with staff and inventory for weekend business,” Volare Italian Restaurant Executive Chef Joshua Moore said. “So we’re having to make a lot of changes today to try to get through.”
December is normally a very busy month for restaurants.
In Louisville, some had hoped to recoup some losses suffered when the Kentucky Derby was closed to the public.
But at Volare on Frankfort Avenue, 50 employees will soon be laid off with the holidays approaching.
”Having them run to the unemployment office tomorrow where some of them are still waiting to get benefits from March 16th,” Volare General Manager Jonathan Tarullo said. “But unfortunately that’s what we’re having to deal with. And we’ll have to deal with that immediately.”
A big fear among managers and employees is that the three-week disruption might last longer, wiping out paychecks through Christmas.
“It’s just going to be about trying to file for unemployment,” server Gavin Knickerson said. “And just hanging on until we can get back to it.”
”If you have friends in your work industry hopefully you can talk to them,” server Colin Schreier said. “Hopefully you can ease each other’s mind, each other’s pain, each other’s worries because we truly are a family in this city.”
Volare management said a good night before COVID-19 would bring in 250 people to dine, but during the pandemic, that number is down to 100 in part because of added distancing and reduced seating.