Frankfort diner works to figure out how to keep outside dining capacity throughout winter months

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 10:08 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Cliffside Diner has been serving up favorites in Frankfort since the mid 1940′s, but they’ve never had a year quite like 2020.

“It’s challenging,” Owner Kevin Ritchie said. “Initially, we went to just the carry-out service, we didn’t actually open the inside up until about 3 or 4 weeks ago.”

Like so many other restaurants, Cliffside Diner was able to cash in on outdoor seating, setting up tables with umbrellas as well as a tent right outside of its building.

“It’s actually almost been a blessing in the fact that we found out how much people enjoy it,” Ritchie said. “So, it’s something that’s going to stay permanent now.”

But as we get closer to winter, that brings up the question of how to keep customers out of the cold.

“That’s the difficult part,” Ritchie said. “I thought I had a plan, which was to get a 16x32 foot building with roll-up doors all around to have a patio feel during the summer, but even with this tent, as soon as you enclose it, the rules change and now you’re looking at the indoor dining rules.”

And, each new idea adds an extra charge to the diner’s growing tab.

Initially, the Paycheck Protection Program allowed Ritchie to keep his entire staff employed.

But, as the pandemic stretches on, more funding for restaurants like the Cliffside Diner could be the difference between closed and open for business.

“The support from the community has been great,” Ritchie said. “But, during the winter we may have to look for something like that.”

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