More than 25 Lexington businesses show support to public school teachers


Lexington area restaurants such as Willie’s Locally Known offer free meals and other discounts to Teachers on Friday, March 30, 2018. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

More than 25 Lexington businesses offered products and deals on Friday to public school teachers to show support after the Kentucky legislature passed Senate Bill 151 on Thursday evening. 

Restaurants such as Great Bagel, Willie’s Locally Known, Alfalfa and more offered deals such as percentages off food and drinks and even free meals to school teachers. In the past few weeks, teachers across the state have been protesting Gov. Matt Bevin’s pension reform.

On Thursday, Kentucky Republicans introduced and passed a plan, Senate Bill 151, to redesign Kentucky’s pension systems without giving the public a chance to read the bill, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. The bill now states that teachers hired after Jan. 1, 2019, will be put on a hybrid cash balance retirement plan, future teachers will have to work longer to become eligible for retirement benefits and more.

As of Thursday night, more than a third of Fayette County Public Schools employees had reported that they would not come to school Friday, according to a post on the school district’s page. Therefore, the district canceled school.

Great Bagel owner Robert Swan said that he decided to offer free small coffee to Fayette County teachers after the news about the pension passing broke last night.

“Our teachers are a really important resource so we have to pay them because teach they our kids and take care of our children every day. If we don’t do that, we can’t expect much from them,” he said. “We feel like we need to support our teachers and make sure that they are getting paid well and are taken care of.”

Swan’s wife stayed home from work with their children, who attend Maxwell Elementary. He said that while Fayette County Public Schools closing was inconvenient, it is “worth it” to him to show support.  

Bryan Station High School teacher Kathy Broadnax said she was choosing to support local businesses that are supporting teachers on Friday. She stopped in Great Bagel with her daughter to buy brunch. She had plans to go to other businesses like O’Neil’s and Willie’s Locally Known after she stopped by the high school to grade papers before Fayette County’s spring break next week.

“It was really nice to see businesses who support teachers, and teachers will always give back to those kinds of people,” she said.

Broadnax thinks that teachers are upset because of the way the Senate voted on the bill unexpectedly. She said that she is glad that Attorney General Andy Beshear said that he would look into the legality of the passing of Senate Bill 151.

Daphne Robinson, a teacher at Jessie M. Clark Middle School, said that she came to Willie’s Locally Known for lunch after dropping off food for students. She said that there was “a lot of support for students” that teachers didn’t want to end just because school was canceled Friday. 

Shop Local Kentucky founder Rick Paynter said his store created a discounted shirt for customers to show their support for teachers as they protest. He said he is not normally a “political guy,” but he knows how hard the teachers work at his daughters’ school on a daily basis.

“While I’m not sure if there’s a great answer for $41 billion in unfunded pensions—we dug ourselves in a hole— but this wasn’t the answer,” Paynter said.

Paynter’s children came to his office with him on Friday. They are students at a school in Georgetown and he said the school was closed due to teachers not coming into work. Paynter went to Frankfort to show his children his protest and demonstrate his support in person. He said he wasn’t expecting such passion.  He estimated that 150 to 200 protesters were present in Frankfort.

The following list is confirmed by the Kentucky Kernel, as of 2:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon, to offer something for teachers on Friday:

  • Willie’s Locally Known- Free lunch
  • Great Bagel- Free small coffee
  • Shop Local Kentucky- T-shirt designed to show support
  • Mellow Mushroom at Lexington Green- 40 percent off food items
  • Alfalfa- 30 percent off and free drink or coffee
  • Good Foods Co-Op- 25 percent off lunch
  • Bourbon N’ Toulouse- $5 meal for teachers and state employees
  • Atomic Ramen- 20 percent off
  • Shamrock Bar & Grille- 20 percent off
  • Cellar Bar & Grille- 20 percent off
  • Lockbox at 21C- 20 percent off
  • Distilled at Gratz Park- 20 percent off (Friday and Saturday)
  • Lexington Diner- Free French toast
  • Blue Door Smokehouse- 20 percent off
  • A&W Lexington locations- Free root beer float
  • Lexington Beerworks- 50 percent off plus drink specials
  • Minton’s at 760- 25 percent off
  • Blue Stallion Brewing Company- $4 beers
  • Rolling Oven- Free cheese sticks
  • The Casual Pint- $2 beers
  • DryArt Salon & Blowdry Bar- Giveaway contest for $50 gift card and gift bag
  • El Lounge Ice Cream and Snacks- Free scoop of ice cream
  • High on Art & Coffee- Free 12 oz. coffee
  • Locals’ Craft Food and Drink- 20 percent off
  • Serendipity Boutique- 20 percent off
  • Sorella Gelateria- Free scoop or $5 take home pint of ice cream

Reporter Jordan Prather contributed to this article.