LOUISVILLE, Ky. — At Doc Crow’s on Louisville’s Whiskey Row Friday afternoon, the bourbon was still flowing, as restaurants prepared for the third year of serving customers in a pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • Jucy's Smokehouse is a family-run business in Oldham County

  • The restaurant has dealt with higher food costs and difficulty accessing needed supplies in 2021

  • Doc Crow's is a restaurant on Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville

  • Despite the challenges heading into the third year of the pandemic, staff at the businesses say they are optimistic about 2022

Ahead of 2022, businesses continue to adapt to a variety of challenges, including higher food costs, hiring needs and difficulty accessing needed supplies. 

Outside the restaurant in March 2021, local leaders and businesses encouraged the public to support downtown as part of “Main Street Basketball Madness." 

"Regardless of what team we're pulling for, I think we can all agree we're rooting for our downtown Louisville to get back togther," said Karen Williams, president and CEO of Louisville Tourism, at the March news conference. 

"Due to the convention center and the conventions coming back, we’ve been very busy," said Brad Lawton, Doc Crow's general manager, on Friday. "We’ve been very fortunate throughout this past five months or so."

Lawton said it has been tougher to bring locals back, due in part to road closures and parking issues.

"There’s always construction in Louisville," he said. "It’s just been tough to get locals down here because ... there’s no free parking." 

While food costs have also increased, he was looking forward to the new year. 

Doc’s Bourbon Room, where Lawton was doing inventory Friday, opened just 39 days before restaurants were forced to close indoor dining, he said.

Doc Crow's general manager, Brad Lawton, conducts inventory in Doc's Bourbon Room in downtown Louisville. (Spectrum News 1/Erin Kelly)

"We’ve been seating this area since about May, but the bar and the wall program just relaunched in September, so we are developing that as we go," he said. 

At family-run Jucy’s Smokehouse in Oldham County, Brooke Nelson was serving customers Friday and getting wings ready for New Year's Eve orders.  

Spectrum News 1 talked to her in March 2021, when she wanted to thank the community for seeing them through the first year of the pandemic. 

"People can come together and save you, and save your life, your business," she said during an interview in March. 

Nelson said that in 2021, the restaurant has had to improvise, due to higher food costs, difficulty getting certain supplies and a smaller staff.

There were ups and downs, but it was not a bad year, and they still feel the support from regulars and new customers as they look ahead to 2022, she said. 

"I’m optimistic," said Nelson. "It has to get better. You know, I feel like a lot of it is perspective and attitude too, so I feel like everybody should just go in with a positive attitude, and pray for the best."