Friday was “Free Pie Day” at a Mortons Gap restaurant. And a day of more freedom.

“I said, when Andy opened us up, anybody who comes in and dines gets a free piece of pie,” owner Wendy Smith said.

The pie was Smith’s way of saying thanks to the customers who kept Sissy’s Cafe afloat during the coronavirus shutdown. Gov. Andy Beshear ordered inside restaurant dining closed Monday, March 16 as a health precaution. He let it resume Friday, but at 33% capacity not counting outside seating.

Smith was forced to “regroup your business” and lay off some staff members as a result of the restrictions. But with a skeleton crew of four, the cafe kept going for more than 10 weeks through carryout and curbside orders. That allowed some employees to come back Friday.

“We worked long hours and several days,” Smith said about the reopening. “We’re ready for the vacation.”

Customers visiting many restaurants should be ready to see more open space, with some tables and chairs removed to stay legal.

“Only family members can sit at tables together,” advised signs on the doors of Ms. Becky’s Place near downtown Dawson Springs. While the main marquee along Arcadia Avenue indicated only drive-thru service was available, its dining room reopened Friday as well.

“I don’t like having to wear a mask,” Dawson Springs city employee Nick Hester said as he shared a fish lunch with a colleague. “But it’s nice to sit down and eat.”

“Back to a little bit of normal,” said Chris Summers of Caldwell County. The staff made an exception to let him share a table with Hester.

But Hester admitted “The Place” was not his first choice. Fiesta Acapulco down the street still had its dining room closed, doing carryout service only.

“There are some restaurants that aren’t opening today,” Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton reminded viewers during a COVID-19 Facebook Live briefing. “There’s going to be limited staff at most of the restaurants, because of the 33% limit.”

But restaurant workers which opened Friday seemed to smile about it under their masks.

“So far, so good,” reported Ms. Becky’s Place employee Samantha Dover. “We only have 24 seats set out.”

Dover added that during the morning, there was no waiting for a table to go over the limit.

Shortly after noon, Sissy’s Cafe had only a couple of customers seated in its dining room. After what Smith called the “challenge” of reopening, there’s now a challenge of bringing people back inside.

“You hear a lot of the older people... ‘Hey, I’m still not coming in,’ ” Smith said. “This is still a little close to take chances.”

Beshear is being cautious as well. He has yet to say when he’ll allow restaurant capacity to increase. And his “Healthy at Work” plan does not allow bars to reopen until Monday, June 29.

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