LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Chris Williams knew his restaurant would be busy when he signed it up for Louisville's Burger Week this year, but he didn't realize how many orders he would get, which was a welcome change during the ongoing pandemic.
"This is more business than we've seen in probably three months combined," Williams said.
Williams has navigated his restaurant, Four Pegs, through the tides of the coronavirus pandemic, including the changing restrictions from the governor's office. He said he estimates he lost about two-thirds of his revenue when he had to close off his dining room and switched to a carry-out-only model. This week marked the first time he had opened up his indoor dining space.
Williams is not alone in facing these challenges. Four Pegs is one of more than two dozen restaurants and bars that have joined together to form the Responsible Bar and Restaurant Coalition.
"Hey, this group of restaurants is doing things the right way," Williams said. "We just want to keep our staff safe. We want to keep our patrons safe. And we want to stay open."
The coalition first started having discussions a few months earlier about ways to promote their safe practices to customers. The coalition is an independent, self-governing group made up of restauranteurs, bar owners, chefs and others working closely in the food and beverage industry. The members must adhere to a strict set of health guidelines and keep one another accountable.
"We know what we need to see, so we can go out and go to another place and say, 'Hey, we all agreed we were going to do things this way, to do the right thing. We need to step our game up,'" he said. "We didn't want to get lumped in with all the bars that were just cramming people in shoulder to shoulder, who weren't doing the right things like we were. So we wanted to find a way for us to stand out, to let people know we're really trying to do the right thing to keep everyone as safe as humanly possible."
Williams said many of the safety guidelines, which include wearing masks and practicing social distancing, were already being practiced at Four Pegs and other member restaurants and bars. He said something the coalition is requiring is for members to report data when it comes to the number of customers, employees and coronavirus cases, which will help them track the efficacy of their health guidelines.
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