Roundtable discussion with local restaurants

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles was in Lexington Tuesday, talking to restaurant owners and chefs about the challenges they’re facing.

“We are ready and willing and happy to welcome people back inside our restaurants,” Michel said.

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The roundtable discussion with Kentucky small business owners and chefs, like Ouita Michel, brought to light the struggles coming out of a difficult year.

“Staffing is probably our number one concern, at least it is for me. And making sure that young people understand that coming back to work in restaurants is safe and fun and it’s a great career folks,” Michel said.

Michel owns seven restaurants, she says 85 percent of her 200 plus employees have been vaccinated.

“We’re encouraging people to, we’ve followed safe practices for the entire year, but it is safe to come back inside and our tables are distanced and we follow all the protocols,” Michel said.

Lexington was just the first stop for Commissioner Ryan Quarles’ roundtable discussion.

He wants to support Michel and other restaurant owners and chefs because despite the challenges, they continued to support local farmers.

“The agriculture industry is the second biggest employer in kentucky and we have a $46 billion annual economic impact across the commonwealth,” Quarles said.

His other stops will be in Louisville, Bowling Green, Owensboro, and London.

“We want to listen first before proposing solutions in Kentucky. We’re not a one size fits all state and so we want to conclude these series of restaurant roundtables and then come up with ways that helps the entire industry,” Quarles said.