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‘It’s going to be extremely important to us’, Local business owners react to CARES Act awards

Marketplace on Main co-owner Pattie Carter said she learned her business had received $4,489.18 through the Versailles Economic Recovery Act (VERA) when she got a call from The Woodford Sun asking for a comment on the award. “Of course, I called (co-owner) Cathy (Noel) and told her. So we were very excited and thrilled that we were approved, and we certainly thank the city and the CARES program for approving us. It’s been a difficult year, and we’re not through yet.” On July 21, the Versailles City Council approved a list compiled by a panel of council members and others awarding a total of $433,162.70 to 95 businesses in the city. The grants, using federal CARES Act funds, are designed to help businesses recoup some of what was lost due to precautions taken to control the COVID-19 pandemic, and range from $386.07 to $7,500. The average grant – $4,559.61 – is very close to what Marketplace on Main was awarded. Carter said her shop was closed for two months, and while they tried to sell curbside, the best they could do was $400 one of those months. Several vendors operate inside the two-story building at 161 North Main Street, and they’ve been hurt, too, she said. The loss of revenue was compounded by the closure of the shows where the Marketplace owners and their vendors would shop for new items after Christmas, Carter said. “So we really couldn’t buy much, so that really set us back too, because we didn’t have new merchandise. And so, now that we’re open, we’re trying to restock, but we don’t have the income to be able to do that.” Carter said while the grant amount is just a fraction of the money they’ve lost – so far – it’s “extremely important.” “We still had to pay our utilities and rent and things like that while we were closed, and we were getting down to the nitty-gritty where we really didn’t have the money to pay bills and stuff. So getting this money helps us – it doesn’t put us back where we were by any means, but it certainly helps to give us money to restock and to pay bills that we haven’t paid,” she said. Mi Pueblito A co-owner of Mi Pueblito, the Mexican restaurant at 103 Crossfield Drive, said the $7,500 his business was awarded is good for his bottom line – and his employees. “This helps a lot... to keep everybody working. … (To) keep all the workers at the same hours they had before all this started,” said Alfonso Murillo. “We basically go month by month right now.” Like many local restaurants, Mi Pueblito has remained open, offering curbside service while Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order shut down in-person dining. Business has picked up since restaurants were allowed to have diners inside again, at a maximum of half-capacity. But Murillo said the layout of his restaurant doesn’t provide enough room for them to operate at half-capacity. Only 35 customers can sit inside now, he said, though a patio offers additional seating. “We’ve still been busy. People still … come in here or curbside, but we still kind of need this money …” Murillo said. “I just want to say ‘Thank you’ to the people involved in all this. … This is a big help for us.” Bypass Liquor Like many of its competitors, the liquor store at 159 Yellow Jacket Drive kept its drive-through open while many other businesses were forced to close. However, even before Beshear’s executive order allowing retail stores to reopen fully, owner Wayne Raider decided to keep Bypass Liquor a drive-through-only business – for the good of his customers, employees and himself, he said. “ … There’s no way in the world I can go around and wipe off every single bottle that a customer touches, whereas the drive-through, we’ve got a six-foot distance … between the car and us,” Raider said. Raider said aside from a few wine drinkers who’d prefer to browse inside the store, most of his customers know what they want when they arrive, and he’s getting plenty of new business from people who prefer not to get out of their cars. “A few customers have asked, and when I tell them why, they pretty much understand why I’m doing it,” Raider said. While Bypass Liquor appears to have fared better during the pandemic than many other area businesses, the $5,000 he was awarded will help, Raider said. Asked whether he thought the free corncobs he left on the drive-through window ledge during the early, “no toilet paper anywhere” period were used for their intended (if joking) purpose, Raider said, “I have no idea, but they all disappeared.”

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