Owensboro restaurants report mass layoffs, employers offer free meals to staff

March 21, 2020 | 12:10 am

Updated March 23, 2020 | 2:41 pm

COVID-19 has forced mass layoffs at restaurants around the country and Owensboro is not immune.

Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn reported laying off 40 of its 120 employees, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s let go of 38 staff members and Legends Sports Bar & Grill laid off 37 of its employees.

“We’ve only let go of the people whose positions were completely eliminated, and that’s how the next round will go,” said Patrick Bosley, vice president at Moonlite Bar-B-Q. “Our layoffs strictly came from positions that were eliminated by the executive order of Andy Beshear. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

The layoffs were a direct result of a state-wide ban on in-dining at restaurants to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Most of the jobs that were eliminated 86 consisted of servers, bartenders, hostesses and some cooks.

Bosley said employees are deep cleaning the dining floor while it’s closed. He said he’s not ruling out another round of layoffs as the situation unfolds with COVID-19, adding his main goal is to stay open until next year.

“We’ve just kept our management team on to take care of everything,” said Larry Clark, general manager at Legends. “We’ve gone into a 30-day survival mode and hope that we can keep what we’re doing going for the next 30 days, just to see how things go.

There’s now a crew of six handling the day-to-day operations at Legends. The restaurant has cut its hours and is doing curbside delivery, which was something it has never done since opening in 2017. Clark said Legends has seen a 90 percent decrease in sales.

“These people mean so much to us, and they’re the backbone of our business,” said Stacy Bratcher, owner Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. “They’re the reason we have been successful for 14 years.”

This is the reason why Bratcher has been offering her employees who were laid off and their children a free meal every day while they are laid off.

“One of our servers came up to get his dinner, and his little girl was in the back seat and that just broke my heart, just knowing that he has no way of getting an income,” Bratcher said as she teared up. “I can’t stand it when people are hungry, so that’s something that we decided to do.”

Bratcher said the layoffs are temporary and offered free meals to the employees as a way to maintain a rapport with her staff.

Clark said Legends has offered its employees who were laid off a certain dollar amount to get meals at the restaurant each week.

“These are our family and friends,” Clark said. “It’s heartwrenching. I don’t even like having these conversations, but you definitely want to try to do as much as you can.”


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The Owensboro Health coronavirus hotline is available 24/7 by calling 877-888-6647. Call the hotline before seeking in-person care. More information from OH can be found here.

For the latest information and data on COVID-19 in Kentucky visit kycovid19.ky.gov or dial the Kentucky state hotline at 800-722-5725.

For the latest health guidelines and resources from the CDC, visit their website here.

March 21, 2020 | 12:10 am

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