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Western Ky. Restaurant Employees Facing Financial Struggle With New Dining Restrictions

Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau

Restaurant owners say they’re facing a financial struggle in adapting to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order mandating new restrictions to limit COVID-19 spread, which orders all bars and restaurants to close indoor services.

Ashley Figley, a waitress at the diner Waffle Hut in Paducah, Kentucky, said she’s only been able to get tips from to-go orders, and she stressed the importance of ordering from locally-owned restaurants.

She said on Monday, the Waffle Hut did “about a quarter of what we would normally do on an eight-hour shift.”

Figley said she was initially optimistic as the new restrictions were enforced because the restaurant was doing well. But the new restrictions have resulted in Sas much of a decline in business as when Beshear closed indoor service at bars and restaurants in the spring, she said.

“The first day that we were shut down, this time we did pretty well,” Figley said. Compared to the last time, we thought we would be more successful. These last few days have shown us it’s just like it was before.”

Credit Screenshot From Chris Fristoe's Facebook

Fristoe’s Food Mart Restaurant in Graves County, originally defied the governor’s new order and remained open for dine-in service. On Friday, Chris Fristoe of Fristoe’s Food Mart and Restaurant announced on Facebook he was staying open for "the customers and people that choose to come.” He also said in the social media post he was willing "to take the backlash and jail time" for this decision.

In an interview with Fristoe on Wednesday, he referred to backlash other Marshall County restaurants have received for staying open and potential problems with licensing some restaurants may face for remaining open.  much money from his food market, and his business  during the first restaurant shutdown did deliveries Monday through Friday, averaging about 700 take-out orders each week.

But Fristoe added the restaurant lost an average of $1,000 per week on food costs and employees’ pay during that time.

He also expressed concerns about unemployment benefits that his servers are receiving, saying many waitresses he knew were only getting a little under $100 every two weeks.

“You know, you can’t even pay, you know, a phone bill,you can’t pay nothing with $98,” he said. You couldn’t even eat off of it for two weeks.”

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