Recovering Kansas City restaurants, bars fear potential revenue slump with new mask mandate

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Starting Monday, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is requiring everyone, even vaccinated people, to wear masks in indoor public places. That includes restaurants and bars.

It’s an industry hit hard by the pandemic, and some restaurant owners say this feels like groundhog day. They feel stuck in a cycle they don’t want to be in as they continue to do their best to recover from a tough year.

“I think everyone’s just disappointed. I think it’s very tough right now to know what to understand and what to believe,” said Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association President David Lopez.

At Lopez’s restaurant Manny’s Kansas City, 90% of his staff is vaccinated and wear stickers so customers know. While he respects Lucas’ decision to implement a mask mandate, he believes it could deter people from getting vaccinated.

“It’s just such a tough deal. It really kind of feels like you’re almost sending the wrong message,” Lopez said. “I know that’s not the intention of what this mandate is about, but sometimes intentions really don’t matter. It’s what occurs.”

A few blocks north on Main Street, the beer has been flowing quickly again at Taps on Main. Owner Grant Tower fears they may dry up a bit after Monday and affect his business.

“I’m certain it will,” Tower said. “It’s not as much fun to go out when you have to be masked. That’s just how it is.”

Tower will again push takeout to make up for any potential lost revenue. Along with beer deliveries, 10 cases of masks will be arriving at Taps on Main on Thursday for staff, who he said will suffer the most from the mask mandate.

“I feel bad for our staff because it’s a tough thing to enforce, and we had trouble with it earlier,” Tower said. “Our hope is that it’s not tough on them this time around, but I’m not super optimistic about that.”

Kansas City’s mask mandate will last until at least August 28. To renew it, the order must be passed by city council. Lopez said a renewal of the mandate could cause rebellion among his members, and he may have to rattle the trees.

“We still have a chance to keep our lights on keep our doors swinging,” Lopez said. “We do have to wear masks, and that’s something that I think everyone across the board is disappointed about, whether you’re a restaurant or a barber shop owner, the mayor or just a citizen of Kansas City.'”

The complete KCMO mask mandate can be found here.

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