Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn, at 2840 W. Parrish Ave., has already burned through its cash reserves and is borrowing money to stay open through the coronavirus pandemic, Pat Bosley, one of the owners, told Daviess Judge-Executive Al Mattingly in a Facebook Live discussion Wednesday.
“It’s just brutal,” he said.
Bosley said business has been down 60% during the pandemic, which began in March.
Moonlite is a tourist destination, he said.
“Fifty percent of our business is in tourism,” Bosley said. “And that has been decimated.”
The International Bar-B-Q Festival, ROMP and other big tourist draws were canceled last year.
And Bosley said even high school basketball games usually bring people in from other counties to dine.
But this year there have been limits on how many fans can be in the stands.
Catering, he said, is a big part of Moonlite’s business.
And many of the things the restaurant normally caters have been canceled or attendance cut.
“If we hadn’t had federal assistance, I don’t know that we could have stayed in business,” Bosley said.
He said Moonlite got $10,000 in assistance from the state.
“That’s one third of one week’s payroll,” Bosley said.
Restaurant sales some weeks haven’t been enough to make payroll, he said.
Servers, who rely on tips, have really been hit by the lost business, Bosley said.
Mattingly said the state’s unemployment system is “antiquated.”
He said he’s talked to people “who haven’t gotten one penny since March.”
“We’re losing money every week,” Bosley said.
But he said the restaurant is continuing to stay open because it wants to still be in business when the pandemic is over.
Moonlite is one of the largest restaurants in town.
Fifty% capacity, which restaurants are operating on, is still 150 or more people there.
But small restaurants are struggling to survive on the few customers they can seat, Bosley said.
“I don’t know how much longer some can stay in business,” he said.
Bosley said nationally 110,000 restaurants have already closed.
“I think we’ll see more close in Owensboro before COVID is over,” he said. “Most are struggling with 50% capacity.”
Bosley said Moonlite has from $30,000 to $40,000 in its refrigerators at any given time.
When the governor ordered a complete shutdown last spring, he said, the restaurant had to give it all away.
“It was give it away or throw it away,” Bosley said.
He suggested that people who want to help restaurants buy gift certificates if they are uncomfortable eating out now.
Mattingly said there are 1,800 reported active cases in Daviess County.
But he said, “There are probably four or five times that many who haven’t been tested and are spreading it. It’s real and it’s alive.”