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No crowds at 2021 Thunder Over Louisville or the Pegasus Parade: What happens to local businesses?

Melba's Culinary Canvas opened just a few months ago and while big crowds would have been exciting for the new restaurant, the owner is staying positive.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Derby Festival has announced some of its biggest events like Thunder over Louisville and the Pegasus Parade, are happening on the original dated as planned, but they not have groups this year. 

On one hand it's the first sign that despite COVID-19, things can move forward, but on the other, the economic impact in jarring.

In 2018 Thunder over Louisville brought in more than 16 million dollars in tourism. Without visitors and crowds, there's no telling what type of revenue businesses will get.

Just down the street from waterfront park, there's a new business introducing itself to downtown Louisville. While you would never know by it's beautiful décor and warming presence, Owner and Chef Charles Reed opened Melba's Culinary Canvas after the start of a pandemic and after being severely damaged last spring.

"My industry has changed forever, my life has changed forever because of what's happened," Reed said. "I don't know what else to say it's just been tough."

Now the changes of Thunder Over Louisville and the Pegasus parade mean less business for places like Melbas. Both events usually bring large crowds into the streets of downtown well into the evening, but not this year. Reed says this news is just another bump in the road. Another reason to focus on every customer that walks in.

"I do know that uhm it's survival," Reed said. "I don't know what to expect anymore and the only thing that we can do is every plate possible has to be the best."

Credit: Jessie Cohen/WHAS-TV
Sweet treats at Melba's in downtown Louisville.

He says while he's able to stay positive about building downtown back up, people need to stop bringing it down and start exploring their own city again.

"Ya know what downtown is still here," Reed said. "And those types of negative responses don't help the business community down here."

So because big events like Thunder won't draw in a crowd this year, businesses like Melba's are open and ready to serve.

Melba's Culinary Canvas is located at 430 W. Jefferson Street. They have an array of items on their menu including lunch, homemade cakes, pastries and delicious drinks. You can also purchase items on their website!

Contact reporter Jessie Cohen at JCohen@whas11.com and follow her on TwitterFacebook or Instagram

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