Tri-State restaurants laying off employees, switching to carry-out only

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — Governors of both Indiana and Kentucky are following Ohio and Illinois, announcing restaurants and bars are to switch to a drive-thru and carry out only model. The announcement is a requirement in Kentucky and Governor Holcomb’s office tells Eyewitness News restaurants in Indiana are strongly advised to follow it.

The move would eliminate dining room service all together in Kentucky and could impact Indiana restaurants.

“It’s been unprecedented chaos. Moonlight has been a family owned, independent restaurant for over 57 years and we’ve never faced the decisions that we’re facing now,” said Moonlight BBQ Co-Owner Patrick Bosley.

Bosley is just one of many business owners now faced with making tough decisions.

“We have over 120 employees and currently we’re looking to lay off 40+. I mean it just, tears me up. I think one of the hardest things for us is the uncertainty, that we’re not given a time table, that we’re not given information. We don’t have a clear guideline of what to do and how to do it,” said Bosley.

Across the Ohio River, more unanswered questions. A spokesperson for Indiana Governor Holcomb’s office stopped short of calling the announcement an order but added they hoped the guidelines to close would be followed. The time for when restaurants are expected to close was also up in the air.

“I had some people saying 2:30, some people saying 5 o’clock but until I see a hard number, we’re just going to continue on business as usual,” said William Sasser with Bud’s Rockin’ Country Bar & Grill.

Management at Bud’s on West Franklin are keeping the dining rooms open, to give as many employees more scheduled hours as possible before they also reduce staff and change to a carry-out only model, starting tomorrow.

“It’s been a very hot topic here, everyone’s been talking about unemployment and things like that. We will probably have to lay off quite a bit of the front of house staff because we won’t have the need for them unfortunately, but kitchen staff wise, back of house we’ll be able to work as many people as possible,” said Sasser.

“Did I ever think I was going to have to lay off some of my employees? No. You know, you have an obligation to take care of your employees and we want to do that to the best of our abilities, but we have an obligation to all of our employees to stay in business. It’s just a hard pill to swallow,” said Bosley.

Governor Beshear and Governor Holcomb’s announcements come less than 24 hours before St. Patricks Day, which is typically one of the busiest times of the years for bars and restaurants.

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(This story was originally published on March 16, 2020)

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