As the economy continues the re-opening effort in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, local business owners are also making plans to open their doors and welcome customers back inside. Among those business owners are Mark Shepherd, owner of Bubby’s BBQ and Buffet in Corbin.
The last few weeks have been tough for Shepherd, having to lay off employees and shut his doors to customers who have been loyal to him for many years, but now he is ready to once again begin serving the good, homestyle meals that Bubby’s has become famous for. There will be a few temporary changes, however.
The first thing that diners are likely to notice upon entering Bubby’s in the coming days and weeks is the fact that Shepherd has taken this time to revamp his restaurant, including updated lighting, a new look on the walls and redesigned buffets. It is also possible, depending on when you visit, that you may have to wait to be seated in a new way.
Restaurants are opening back up later this week under the guideline that they have to operate at just over 30 percent capacity, and people will be asked to not gather together in common waiting areas while they wait for a table to open up. To help this process go as smoothly as possible, Bubby’s will be utilizing an electronic paging system where visitors will check in upon their arrival, be handed an electronic pager, and then wait in their vehicles until they are paged to come back inside and be shown to their table.
Once you are seated and ready to eat, the ordering process will look just a little different as well. For now, many of the same staples of the Bubby’s buffet, such as pulled pork and catfish, will be available for diners to request off of a menu. It will still be all-you-can-eat, just like normal, but servers will bring food and drinks directly from the kitchen to the table, all while wearing personal protective equipment.
“We want to do everything that we possibly can to make sure that people are safe,” Shepherd said. “We are still going to offer all-you-can-eat, and I am personally going to be in the back of the restaurant to make sure that everything gets out to people as quickly as possible.”
Feeding folks at a limited capacity will also mean working with a limited staff starting out. Shepherd explained that of the 35 employees who were present at Bubby’s before the pandemic hit, about twelve of those will be returning to work this week. The main goal is to get everyone back to work as soon as possible, though, and to be able to offer a full buffet once again, as soon as it is safe enough to do so.
“I’m proud of the fact that we’re going to be opening back up,” Shepherd said. “We’ve been talking about how we were going to do things once we did re-open, and I knew that there were going to be some special guidelines for buffets. We’re doing everything that we can to give you a good taste of Bubby’s, but to also make sure that you are totally safe coming here to eat.”
“The old Bubby’s is going to be back,” Shepherd added. “People will just have to be patient with us for a little bit. This is still the same food you know and love, though.”
Shepherd and his wife, Michelle, have been staying active on social media in recent days, continually updating the Bubby’s BBQ official Facebook page with information about what customers can expect when they are able to once again come visit the restaurant starting this Friday, May 22.
“I can’t wait,” Shepherd said of re-opening Bubby’s. “We’ve taken a hit during all of this, but it’s not just been us. It’s been everybody.”
Shepherd also wanted to let customers know that he understands if many people still do not feel comfortable dining inside of a restaurant, which is why Bubby’s will continue to offer carryout orders as well.