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Restaurant hurt by government shutdown still chips in to help federal workers

Nick & Tony's meals for federal workers
Posted at 12:32 PM, Jan 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 12:33:01-05

COVINGTON, Ky. — Employees at Nick & Tony's Double Decker Cafe know many IRS employees on a first-name basis. The cafe, located in the federal building at 300 Madison Ave., relies on workers grabbing a burger or salad for lunch. But since the government shutdown, cafe owner Ryan Cassis says business is down by more than half.

"Not only is it because of the IRS but also because of the surrounding businesses that we usually get customers from," he said. "We’re seeing probably a 60 percent reduction in our business."

Cassis is opening the restaurant daily but only from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. because of the empty seats. He says he wants to guarantee at least 20 hours of work per week for his own employees, which isn't always enough.

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"People here, yeah, they’ve had to consider second jobs. We’ve had a couple people leave," said employee Susan Kelly.

Regardless of their own hardships, the staff at Nick & Tony's planned to serve 600 free lunches to federal employees impacted by the partial government shutdown Friday, including some of the IRS employees the staff members regularly serve.

"They can’t afford the gas, they can’t afford the babysitter if the money isn’t coming in," Kelly said.

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Kelly said everyone at the restaurant, customers and employees, are ready for the government to reopen.

"While they’re playing their game, they’re all getting paid, these people are not," she said.