COVINGTON, Ky. — After months of uncertainty and downturn in business due to the coronavirus pandemic, things were starting to pick back up for Jordan Stephenson, owner of Bard's Burgers and Chili in Latonia.
"It was kind of a big adjustment," Stephenson said. "It all kind of hit us really fast, and we kind of just did our best and kind of just kept readjusting our game plan."
For Stephenson, the "game plan" meant relying heavily on carryout orders starting in June and then getting creative with seating inside his small restaurant located at 3620 Decoursey Ave.
"Everything was going really nice when we got back to the 33% capacity dining," Stephenson said, adding that business returned to near-normal levels when Kentucky allowed for 50% restaurant occupancy.
And then the unexpected happened: In mid-January, the plumbing under the building Bard's occupies collapsed, which in turn forced Bard's to shut everything down until the plumbing issue can be fixed.
Lindsey Dreyer, Bard's general manager and Stephenson's fiancee said Sanitation District One still isn't sure how extensive the plumbing collapse is or how much piping will need to be replaced before Bard's can reopen.
"With all the plumbing stuff that's happened, we're obviously, we weren't financially prepared for that because we've been running through our nest egg to keep our employees employed," Dreyer said.
She said after the plumbing collapsed, Stephenson took to social media, explained the situation to customers and asked them for their support.
"I mean the community outreach and support have just been unreal," Stephenson said.
Stephenson then set up a GoFundMe page that so far has raised more than $4,000 to help cover the cost of repairs.
Another local business, NKY Tees, launched a raffle to raise more money to help the struggling business.
"It's been really heartwarming to see the community outreach and just people and neighbors that we know giving us positive messages, telling us to keep going," Dreyer said.
The additional support also allowed the couple to rent a food truck they parked behind Bard's in order to offer takeout as work continues inside the restaurant's building.
More than anything, Stephenson said, he would "really just like to say thanks to everybody that's reached out."
He added that whether a person has donated money, shared Bard's story or just offered words of encouragement, it all has meant a lot to him and his fiancee.
People can learn more about Bard's by visiting the restaurant's Facebook page.