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Too small to accommodate social distancing, Covington favorite Wunderbar needs help to stay open

Posted at 9:08 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 21:08:50-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — Wunderbar, small German gastropub at the corner of Lee Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, would have taken a hit during the pandemic no matter what. Spring was punishingly hard on the entire restaurant industry, and owner Nathan Chambers elected to close Wunderbar over coronavirus fears long before such restaurant closures became state-mandated.

“We closed a couple of weeks early due to us having an older group of regulars that I was concerned about,” he said Friday.

But as other area restaurants begin to reopen in late May, moving from takeaway-only to allowing a small number of dine-in patrons, the doors of Wunderbar remained shut.

The space, which had been a cozy place to eat wurst and hear live music before the pandemic, is too small to accommodate social distancing. Chambers ended a business partnership during the closure, making the bar’s future even more uncertain.

And it still costs money to hang on to the building, even when no one is eating or working there.

“(We’re) not having sales but the bills still piling up,” he said. “Not being able to reopen due to the fact that we are such a small bar and restaurant.”

Wunderbar is leaning on its community to help it survive. It’s been a place for local musicians to play for years; now, 20 of those acts plan to play a two-day virtual benefit on Friday and Saturday nights to save the restaurant.

“The community that’s built around this place is not just Covington but the whole Tri-State area,” said Jeremy Francis, one of the participating musicians. “All the musicians that I know that play here absolutely love and support this place as much as they can because that’s how they treat us.”

Chambers said he was touched.

“The outpouring of support from the local music community is overwhelming, just the community as a whole,” he said.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the benefit or view the musicians' performances should visit its Facebook page: Cincy Groove Music.

Anyone who would like to donate directly to Wunderbar can do so via GoFundMe.