Waco staple Kitok Restaurant struggles to stay afloat amid pandemic


WACO, Texas – A Waco restaurant which has grown to become a staple in the community is struggling to stay afloat.

Kitok Restaurant has served countless amounts of families for 45 years – but because of the virus, they were close to not seeing a 46th year.

“Once everything closed, it’s just so hard for me. I haven’t paid my mortgage for two months now,” said Kyong Dehnert, Owner of Kitok Restaurant.

Dehnert took over Kitok 2 1/2 years ago. She says after shutting down due to COVID-19, it’s been a struggle keeping the doors open.

“The business is really bad, and I can’t afford to pay the employees,” said Dehnert.

Sales went from 100 percent down to about 20 percent when they could finally reopen for to-go orders.

“It was really bad. I couldn’t even pay tax, so we were really, really struggling,” she said.

Dehnert says when restaurants were finally able to open at 25 percent capacity, sales jumped from 20 percent to a whopping 70 percent.

“It helps a lot. It helps a lot. I’m glad,” said Dehnert.

She couldn’t have done it without the help of her daughter’s friend Billy, who worked with her at no charge and helped her reopen the establishment. She calls him her angel.

“If he wasn’t here, I couldn’t run, you know? Or even opened for just to-go orders,” she said.

Dehnert has since brough back some employees, and thanks all of her loyal customers who have kept the Waco staple from going under.

“I really thank you for a lot of people try to help Kitok, and they really do say things to encourage me, and I thank to God that helps me out, get through this,” said Dehnert.

Governor Abbott says starting Friday, restaurants can run at 50 percent capacity. Kitok hopes this will help business even more.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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