Social distance dining in the open air or ordering take-out to support local restaurants is a little something most can do to 'lift up' this sector of our economy. Pictured: Max's Brick Oven
The shutdown of indoor dining across the state of Kentucky has many of us wanting to carry the torch for these beaten down businesses and pledge to do what we can by ordering meals to go. It’s a small gesture that most of us can afford to help save this sector of the economy. After all, who doesn’t love take-out?
In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear issued an executive order effective Friday, November 20 through December 13. 2020 that will change buying behaviors as a third wave of high infections due to the deadly coronavirus tightens its grip on our way of life. According to the governor, one of the biggest spreaders of COVID-19 happens when people take off their masks to eat, drink, and engage in conversation whether in restaurants, bars, or any indoor social gathering that involves food.
On the first night of the restaurant and bar shutdown, darkness fell over our neck of the woods before the clock ticked 5 pm CST. For many of us, the dinner bell doesn’t start ringing until 6 pm or later. Efforts to do our part with a ‘gung ho, let’s go’ attitude will happen after the skies turn pitch black.
Since starting the website, finding time to make dinner is almost impossible. I have other commitments besides my new business venture and dinner will take a backseat. If there’s time, I’ll make a Rachel Ray 30 minute meal. Otherwise, off we go into the wild ill-lit yonder.
Last night, the switch was flipped and indoor dining temporarily halted. Let’s agree, Friday nights are made for good food, good friends, and good fun. After all, it’s the weekend; time to slow down, relax, and let someone else do the cooking. The first restaurant on my ‘to go’ order plan was Flamingo Row located across the road from Kentucky Oaks Mall. Flamingo Row is known for its Caribbean flavors, colorful menu items, and unique food and drink. Oh yeah, I haven’t mentioned the ‘to go’ order plan.
In Paducah, and every small town, there are fabulous little nooks with wonderful places to eat. Some area restaurants have converted to online menu ordering, delivery options, menus devoted to carry-out only, and there’s always fast food drive-thru. As it happens, there are still dine-in ‘mostly’ places that are working on strategies to survive the next two COVID-19 cycles, the cycles the governor spoke about in one of his mid-week coronavirus updates.
The plan is to ‘spread the love’ evenly among local restaurants to feed the voracious appetite of my family of five. Traveling in the pitch black in a rural area can be ominous, especially after the shutdowns. There are few cars on the road, the restaurant parking lots are dark, and mother nature’s cloudy fall weather covers the moon leaving little glow.
As I made my way to the Flamingo Row parking lot, there were three parked cars with headlights on. The restaurant sits off the road in a secluded area. Without the parking lights, it was like wearing a blindfold. After parking the car, I made my way to the side entrance to pick-up my carry-out. At first glance, the bar seats were empty, there were two picnic style tables filled with 10 or more carry-out orders, and two restaurant staff behind the register. The first sentence out of my mouth was, “This all feels very weird.” To that end, one of the staff said, “You’re the second person to say that. It’s a restaurant apocalypse.”
The original word in Greek, apokalypsis, means an unveiling, a ‘revelation’. It helps us to see the full disclosure of what was hidden, that wasn’t there before. The pandemic could be a revelation. We’re seeing healthcare inequalities, class divisions, and Americans with otherwise ‘brushed off’ jobs now considered essential workers yet with poor pay. The unveiling has ‘opened our eyes’ to some of the injustices of the world.
It’s clear that all of the world’s problems won’t be solved by ordering take-out from local restaurants. It's clear that we all need each other to survive in this world. I was speaking with a healthcare worker yesterday about the number of people in Paducah that had COVID-19 and subsequently those on the COVID-19 floor of one of the local hospitals. She said that her position didn't require her to be on the Covid floor, however, she did hear that beds were full. She was thankful not to be around all the misery and suffering.
It's definitely a time of revelation and a time to rethink what’s important to us. If making a plan to support the local restaurants by ordering take-out is something you would like to do, I invite you to join a Facebook group WKY Table. It’s here that I post restaurant take-out specials, menus, and reminders. It’s free and uncommercialized. And I encourage you to post specials, menus, and reminders of your favorite restaurants. If you're not buying for your family, consider sending a meal to a healthcare team fighting COVID-19 on the COVID floor of the hospital. Or, there are plenty in need, maybe order take-out and donate to one of the local food kitchens. It's the little things.