Restaurants prepping for outdoor and limited-capacity indoor dining in Louisville

The Kentucky Restaurant Association said Wednesday that Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's new proposals will boost the industry's return to in-person dining.
Updated: May. 15, 2020 at 12:52 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Kentucky Restaurant Association said Wednesday that Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's new proposals will boost the industry's return to in-person dining.

Last month, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Kentucky restaurants can reopen May 22. And Tuesday, Fischer announced that on that date, eateries can only allow for 33 percent capacity indoors, but allowed for those restaurants to get creative with any outdoor seating.

“These changes ... will help make reopening possible and sustainable,” KRA President and CEO Stacy Roof said.

Restaurants are the second-largest private employer in Kentucky.

During an online briefing Tuesday, Fischer announced expedited, no-fee applications for outdoor dining. The mayor is also asking Metro Council to approve temporary regulations which would allow restaurants to seat diners and serve alcohol in parking lots. Fischer said some council members already have indicated their support.

“Louisville has a diverse and unique food culture that sets this city and the entire state apart,” Roof said. “We are appreciative of Mayor Fischer’s support and comments ... as we know how much this will mean to local business owners and the public.”

These guidelines are going to look different for every restaurant and not every one might be able to accomplish what is required.

Dan Borsch owns several very different restaurants all over the city. One of them is Burger Boy, which will not be opening up the restaurant to diners just yet. They are going to stick with to-go orders for now because of the layout of the restaurant.

Borsch also owns Old Louisville Tavern, which he is opening up to diners.

“Look at your space and your operations, for some people this isn’t the right time to open. For the Burger Boy, it’s not the right time,” he said.

Borsch explained it’s a bit easier create a safe dining experience at Old Louisville Tavern because they have big windows they can open up to increase fresh air flow, as well as some space for outdoor dining. He said he’s looking to keep it under the maximum of 33 percent capacity inside.

“We’re going to be on the cautious side and start off with a very limited number of tables,” he said. “We’re going to take reservations to make sure we control the flow.”

There are some other easy requirements Borsch is responsible for, but there are some that fall on the customers, like not having people from different households dining together.

“It is almost impossible for us to do something like that,” he said. “People are taking this very seriously. They know what the regulations are they’ve been responsible. I hope we keep that up.”

The guidelines say the restaurant can refuse someone not wearing a mask while they aren’t eating.

“If we have a polite conversation with people and educate them about what they’re doing right and wrong, that’ll go a long way,” Borsch said. “Nobody’s perfect, but we just got to do the best job that we can.”

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