KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – A move by metro governments to close dining in local restaurants and bars will have a big impact on the people who work inside those businesses and count on tips to pay their bills.
After 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, no more drinks or meals can be served to customers inside Kansas City area restaurants for at least 15 days.
This is just the latest blow to business owners already trying to make things work with restrictions on crowds and the loss of events like March Madness and pro sports that would help attract customers to grab a bite or tip a pint.
Just an hour before the announcement of the restrictions, Governor Stumpy’s owner Kevin Ryan was showing KCTV5 News how his bar and grill was making changes to follow social distancing guidelines in an effort to keep the Waldo mainstay both compliant and open.
“We are just walking that fine line of every 30 minutes something might be changing,” Ryan said at the time.
Then, just around 7 p.m., the news came in of the ban closing bars and restaurants except for delivery, pickup and drive-thru orders.
The news of the radical shift in how he was going to have to run his business put a clear strain on the normally energetic business owner, which was apparent when he was asked about him being stressed over the announcement.
“Just a little bit. I’m not going to lie to you,” Ryan answered. “Now. I wasn’t 10 minutes ago. I’ve got some things we have to re-think.”
While Ryan was showing stress, his customers like Tom O’Donnell was straight-up angry.
“The elected officials are getting their paycheck every pay period, and they’re making decisions that’s going to affect a lot of people that are, I won’t say they’re marginal but they’re certainly not having savings or something to rely on,” O’Donnell said.
There has been talk among local restaurants about their business interruption insurance policies, which would help pay workers if they’re closed. It’s the kind of policy that pays workers when things like flooding, fire, or a power outage closes them temporarily. It’s unclear whether a pandemic would qualify even if they’re forced to close by government edict.
Some restaurant’s also say that switching to take-out and deliveries only would not be economically viable and could possibly keep staff from becoming eligible for unemployment.
Bill Teel, the director of the Kansas City Restaurant Association, told KCTV5 News “There is no question some restaurants are not going to survive this.”
Still, Ryan is determined to keep his restaurant family together, saying simply, “We will survive this.”