LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The televisions are all dark at O’line Sports Grill on Hurstbourne Parkway. In fact, the whole bar is dark.
“Trying to save some on electricity,” owner Bryce Brown said with a rueful chuckle.
The shutdown of restaurants' dine-in areas coupled with the cancellation of the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments — both due to the novel coronavirus outbreak — has decimated income for local businesses like O’line.
“It’s going to cost about $70,000 in sales just from March Madness alone," Brown said. "Now, we’re doing $300 or $400 a day when we would be doing $2,500 or $3,500 — even without March Madness."
That money is coming from carryout orders, which Brown hopes continues through the pandemic. Brown sees the lines at fast food chains. He believes those restaurants will recover, but his may not.
His staff is doing what they can. Brown said the cook agreed to wait until the shutdowns are over before he will take a paycheck. The wait staff is working just on tips and delaying their pay, as well.
“We’re just trying to get through it all together,” Brown said.
The shutdown was especially shocking for the management at Great Flood Brewing in Middletown, which opened just seven weeks ago. The business' staff was preparing for the boon that the NCAA Tournament provides as patrons flock to bars.
“It’s a bummer for sure,” Great Flood manager Maggie Luckett said. “We’re just trying to keep things as afloat as we can.”
Luckett said the business has taken a significant hit to its bottom line with only carryout service.
The National Restaurant Association estimates the shutdown of dine-in areas will cost the entire industry more than $200 billion over the next three months.
For local businesses, the message is clear: Eat local now, because some places may not be here later.
“A lot of businesses like mine won’t survive here for six to eight weeks,” Brown said.
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