Despite green light, not all restaurants plan to fully reopen today

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – As we head into the holiday weekend, it’s normally a busy time for restaurants, especially when it comes to barbecue.

May is National BBQ Month but with the pandemic, it’s meant a lot of changes. While restaurants are allowed to reopen in-person dining Friday at 33% capacity, not everyone is choosing to do that.

“Our place only seats 55-60 people,” said David Carroll, owner of Red State BBQ. “Some other places have a little bit more of an advantage with more space.”

Carroll says with social distancing fears, for now, they plan to stick to curbside pickup, carryout and delivery.

“We do have picnic tables on the other side of the parking lot. We’ve added to that as of yesterday. So, we’ve got about 15 picnic tables out there and they’re spaced out,” said Carroll.

It’s been a learning curve for Carroll as the pandemic changed guidelines for restaurants, impacting their bottom line.

“The initial impact was pretty brutal,” said Carroll. “Everything just came to a stop right before one of our biggest weekends to start the year.”

Carroll says it’s been a slow climb back up the hill, “Our numbers are off considerably compared to past years.”

To help, Carroll says they’ve installed a pop-up grocery area, “We kind of rolled with the punches.”

In terms of the future, Carroll says, “We’re probably going to stay in the stance we’re in. So, when we go back to 100% we’re probably still going to do counter service, whereas in the past, we were doing dinner table service.”

On top of the pandemic, Carroll says the meat shortage also hit them hard.

“Some days we may have a situation where we may order brisket from a distributor and we’re kind of waiting to see if it actually shows up,” explained Carroll. “This weekend we’re good.”

Red State BBQ isn’t the only place choosing to stick with curbside pickup or delivery. East End Tap and Table in Lexington posted on social media they too would not reopen for in-person dining.

Red State BBQ sets up picnic tables for outdoor dining
Source: Red State BBQ

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