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Bar and restaurant owners welcome more customers inside, for longer stay as more restrictions eased in Kentucky

Kentucky businesses are now able to operate at 75% capacity, without a curfew, and customers can sit at the bar again.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Sipping on a wine spritzer, a smile grew across Penny Waits' face."Oh, it's wonderful," she said. "You can actually touch somebody, hug somebody, ya need that."

She's been a regular to The Back Door bar in the highlands for over thirty years. Friday night, for the first time in months, the bar was crowded and she was surrounded by friends

Kentucky businesses are now able to operate at 75% capacity, without a curfew. And, folks can sit at the bar again.

"That's what a bar is all about, being able to sit at the bar and converse with the bartender." Said The Back Door owner John Daunt. He spent the night catching up with customers, friends, gathered along the bar, waiting for another drink. 

Daunt said his bar used to get most of its business between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., so this return to normalcy is also a return to profit for Daunt and his staff.

Meanwhile, in Shelby Park, the bars cater to a different crowd. 

Trouble Bar on Shelby Street is easing into the eased restrictions. The owners there are bringing out more seats for 75% capacity change, but they're waiting to open their bar seats. 

"I'm a recovering cancer patient and our beverage director is on chemo right now," said Trouble Bar Co-Owner Kaitlyn Soligan Owens. So, they're playing it safe for now. 

Still, the two owners hope increased capacity will bring back the magic of chance encounters and new relationships.

Co-Owner Nicole Stipp said jokingly, "Remember when you would go to bars and meet strangers?"

It brought Kaitlyn back to a hope she'd had when they opened the bar in 2019. "I have this whole dream of people meeting here, having their proposal here, and getting married here," she said.

Now, she said, they're a little bit closer to making that dream a reality.

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