Joe’s Inn Bon Air owner unsure of when restaurant will reopen even as Virginia enters Phase 3


CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — The local restaurant Joe’s Inn Bon Air has closed its doors again as it tries to survive the pandemic.

The local eatery originally reopened for carry-out orders back in May thanks to the help of a Paycheck Protection Program loan.  

“Five weeks into it I figured out that it was not a money-making or even break-even venture,” said President Joe Driebe.

He decided to pull the plug and save the remainder of his PPP loan. 

“It’s really hard to do nothing but carry-out when you’re a full-service restaurant,” Driebe told 8News.

With no set date, large venues in Virginia have a plan in place to reopen: ‘We don’t want to be phase 17’

The restaurant’s reopen date is unclear. Even though Phase Three, which starts July 1, will eliminate all capacity restrictions in restaurants, social distancing rules will still apply. Driebe said that will make it difficult to get a large number of customers in the restaurant. 

“Our booths aren’t even six feet apart, they’re five feet, seven inches,” Driebe said.

He predicts the most the restaurant could seat, given its current layout, is 40 percent capacity. “And at 40 percent, we’d bleed cash,” said Dribe. 

He is trying to come up with ways to increase that capacity. One plan is installing clear plastic dividers between booths and between the restaurant’s upper and lower levels. Driebe will be checking with the health department to see if that would be permitted. 

“We’d really like to be reopened, but it doesn’t do us any good to rush to open if were just going to lose money being open,” he told 8News.

Driebe’s goal is to safely seat 75 percent of the restaurant’s capacity and reopen on August 1. He will make a decision within the next few weeks.

Virginia reopens under Phase 3

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