Restaurant in the heart of the Gorge opts to close as COVID-19 takes aim at small businesses

Sky Bridge Station closed in March and may not reopen until 2021
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 7:48 PM EDT
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RED RIVER GORGE, Ky. (WYMT) - In March co-owner of Sky Bridge Station Clifton Gifford made the decision to close his restaurant down.

Sky Bridge Station rests in a little wood cabin just at the turnoff to the Red River Gorge.

“It affects us because we have all these people coming from all over the country and all these hot spots. I always said if we were a small business just catering to local people we would stay open,” said Gifford.

The Red River Gorge is one of Kentucky’s best attractions, people from across the country and even around the world come to town to hike and climb the area of the Daniel Boone National Forrest.

“We decided it was not worth opening our doors and exposing our community to the visitors that come from all over the world and all over the country,” said Gifford.

Gifford’s uncle contracted COVID 19 and nearly died from it. This first had knowledge, coupled with the increase in Kentucky cases drove Gifford to not reopen his restaurant when restaurants were able to reopen.

Sky Bridge Station (Wide)
Sky Bridge Station (Wide)(WYMT)

“For right now the numbers aren’t going down, it’s worse than it was in March. We shut down in March and it’s worse than it was then, it just seems irresponsible to open back up when it’s worse than when we shut down,” added the small business owner.

Gifford says he has talked with other restaurants in the Gorge who are able to remain open because they can manage social distancing standards, however, at Sky Bridge Station he doesn’t have that luxury.

“It’s very much a bar-like atmosphere, and people are in here very close to one another. We have live music and people dancing with one another and things like that. It’s just not conducive to a pandemic,” said Gifford.

While some worry about what the future holds, for Gifford, he has faith they’ll be there on the other side of the pandemic.

“My hope is that the government can get it together and provide a little more relief for businesses like ours, so that we can do the right thing and remain closed and stay safe, but also have the funds available to reopen whenever we can, when this kind of all blows over,” said Gifford.

Sky Bridge Station may offer a carryout service later on in 2020, but Gifford doesn’t believe they’ll return to full service until March of 2021.

Copyright 2020 WYMT. All rights reserved.

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