Owensboro starts payroll assistance program for city bars, restaurants

Coronavirus Watch Kentucky

OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – After Daviess County applied for financial help to stay open during the pandemic, those within Owensboro city limits can also now apply for relief.

The city started a restaurant fund to help those businesses with payroll.

The pandemic’s not only had an affect on some restaurant’s sales.

“They’re down a little bit, as expected, because not as many people are getting out,” says Ketih Cook, manager at Old Hickory Bar-B-Q.

“Close to shutting down. Very close to shutting down,” adds Rocky Sparks of Rocky’s Bar and Grill, describing how sales were lower compared to the last few years. “I don’t think Gov. Beshear has realized what he’s done to a lot of businesses.”

It’s also having an impact on those who cook and serve.

“The people that have been affected the most are the servers. With not as many people going in for dine-in, capacity being cut to 50%, there is not as much work there as there should be,” Cook explained.

Restaurants and bars within Owensboro city limits can start applying for a part of the city’s restaurant and bar supplemental payroll program. $750,000 ill be made available to those eligible, with 90% of a restaurant’s share to help cover payroll. The other 10% for a restaurant’s administrative costs.

“I was shocked because I hadn’t heard anything about it,” Sparks says.

“In some respects, it is modeled on the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) program, so you can think of it as a PPP program for restaurants in the city,” adds City Manager Nate Pagan. He also says they want the money to directly benefit workers who’ve had wages cut or lost working days due to pandemic related restrictions

“We feel like restaurants have been disproportionally impacted and servers disproportionally impacted by some of the closures over the last few months,” he said.

This fund follows Daviess County’s fund started last month for restaurants outside Owensboro city limits. County officials say so far, 19 restaurants each got $5,000.

Pagan says the number of workers a restaurant has will help determine how much that business gets. Bars and restaurants within city limits have until January 15th to apply.

Bar and restaurant owners and managers can fill out an online application on the city’s website.

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(This story was originally published on January 5, 2021)

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