Laurel County restaurant owners, chefs, stakeholders meet with Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner during 'Restaurant Roundtables'
Small business owners, farmers give insight to challenges faced during COVID-19 pandemic
LONDON (April 28, 2021) –Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles has been making rounds across the state this month for his “Restaurant Roundtables” series to thank Kentucky small business owners and chefs for sourcing food from Kentucky farms and hear firsthand about the challenges they faced during the coronavirus pandemic. Today, he met with several small business owners in Laurel County to continue these discussions.
“The home of Colonel Sanders’ first and original restaurant and the place where Sanders’ nephew, Lee Cummings, co-founder of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, began his career, Laurel County knows a thing or two about chicken. Its annual World Chicken Festival celebrates these roots, and also showcases Laurel County’s hospitality,” Commissioner Quarles said. “Across the state, the hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite those challenges, our Kentucky Proud Buy Local restaurants continued to support local farmers. These Restaurant Roundtables are one way I can personally thank them for being part of the farm economy and hear directly from these small business owners about how they survived during the pandemic. It’s time to reopen Kentucky.”
“We appreciate the opportunity to visit with Commissioner Quarles today in Laurel County to talk about the issues facing the restaurant industry as we prepare to reopen,” said Kristin M. Smith, owner of The Wrigley Taproom in Corbin, Kentucky. “I’m glad to have been able to participate in the conversation about labor issues and how to better improve relationships between restaurants and farmers beyond the pandemic.”
“Attending the roundtable this morning and listening with Commissioner Quarles to restaurateurs talk about their challenges really highlights the relationships and partnerships we need with the KDA, farmers, and connectors all over Kentucky,” said Stacy Roof, president and CEO of the Kentucky Restaurant Association. “As Kentucky restaurants prepare to fully reopen, these connections will remain invaluable. We thank the Commissioner for prioritizing our local restaurants, cornerstones in each of their communities.”
The Commissioner has already made stops in Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green, and Owensboro with one more discussion planned for northern Kentucky. Each roundtable will follow recommended Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing.
Those participating in the forum are small businesses, restaurants, and other stakeholders in the hospitality sector. The forum is also a way for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to promote its Kentucky Proud Buy Local program for restaurants, caterers, schools, and other food service participants that source and support local farms. The Buy Local program rewards participants for enhancing their menus with locally-sourced Kentucky Proud farm ingredients. The program is funded by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund.