OWENSBORO, Ky. —  Moonlite BBQ in Owensboro is one of the most well-known restaurants in Kentucky. But a legacy establishment like Moonlite is not immune to the harsh effects of a pandemic. 

“Historically a buffet was a very inexpensive way to serve a lot of people. It kept your labor cost down," co-owner Patrick Bosley told Spectrum News 1. 


The famous Moonlite BBQ buffet


Bosley is adjusting to yet another directive by the state. For two weeks Moonlite, like all other restaurants, has to reduce indoor seating capacity to 25 percent. However, Bosley said seating is not Moonlite's biggest hurdle. 

“My main problem is the confidence, consumer confidence in eating out. As they jockey these numbers around they roll you back from 50 percent to 25 percent, it creates uncertainty of what’s going on," Bosley said.

He worries that fear wil keep people at home. On top of that, tourism is a big slice of Moonlite's business. 


Grilled to perfection at the Moonlite


“It hurts that 50 percent of my business is tourism and that’s gone through 2021, so half of my business is just non-existent,” Bosley said.

For the first time ever, Moonlite will end the year at a loss, but what Bosley hasn't lost is many of his regulars. The carry-out counter is still popular and, for the first time, Moonlite has added curbside pickup. 


Smothered and Covered at the Moonlite



"The businesses that adapt will succeed and survive. The businesses who can’t are in a lot of trouble," Bosely said.