Kansas City-area restaurants hit with more COVID-19 struggles

Posted at 10:34 PM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 16:53:20-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Several months ago as the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the Kansas City area, 41 Action News caught up with Beth Barden, the owner of Succotash in KCMO, as she and her staff made meals for front-line workers.

“You have to have an ‘atta girl’ along with the cinnamon roll," she said. "It's not just the cinnamon roll. It's like, 'I see you, and I can't comprehend how hard this is for you, but in my small way I can try to make it better.'"

As time went on, her staff wanted to come back and do curbside meals.

"I am not opened up to have anyone in the place yet, but as of Memorial Day we have been doing weekends and the occasional Friday just curbside," Barden said.

Unfortunately, this week she closed her doors again.

"I got a call from one of my employees — not employees, team members, friends — that they had COVID-like symptoms," Barden said. "As soon as I heard, COVID-like symptoms, I just shut the doors."

She is among many restaurant owners who had to make the tough decision to close — again.

Now, there is another problem many restaurants face in the battle to try to reopen, getting employees tested and getting results back fast as they lose money with the doors shut.

"We are already ice skating on a razor blade," Barden said. "That's just the way it is. There is no wiggle room. There is a terrible financial cost to being ethical, but (it) doesn't mean you shouldn’t do anything different."

Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System see this problem and they too are hoping for a quicker system to turn around test results.

"We do want more testing capacity; we do want quicker results," Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist with the KU Health System, said. "Those are not brought to market yet. Hopefully, in the near future, those types of things will be (available)."

The staff at Succotash received their results Thursday. Since everyone tested negative, the restaurant will reopen Saturday.

Barden said she was worried it was going to take much longer to get results back, but she's glad they got them in a timely manner.

Still, the well-being of her employees and guests always come first.

"It's mostly important that people are more important than profit," she said.