VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Local restaurants hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic are finding something to be thankful for in the number of Thanksgiving dinners being ordered for take-out.
Friday afternoon, Stacey Shiflet, executive director of the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association, told 10 On Your Side that kitchens across the city were “slammed” preparing for the holiday. Some had preorder numbers unlike any they have seen in the past.
In the case of Cobalt Grille in Hilltop, they have never done take-out Thanksgiving meals. Typically, owner Gary Black expects the dining room to be maxed out all day with families.
“Large parties. Nines, fifteens, twenty people at a time,” Black said. “It had become a tradition for some people once they figured out how good our food is and there’s no cleanup after. It’s a great experience.”
This year, Black still has tables open, even with half the capacity inside the restaurant. He estimates their in-person business will be down as much as 40% this Thanksgiving.
“To-go orders now make up for a large portion of the seats and business we’ve lost,” Black said.
For $90, a couple can get a pre-packaged four-course meal that includes all the traditional Thanksgiving staples as well as a choice of soup, salad and dessert.
Black said they allow people to schedule a time for pick-up and will prepare the meal either hot or cold.
As of Wednesday night, more than 50 orders had been placed.
“We would have never imagined that happening,” Black said.
Many of those orders are being placed by couples, not larger families, according to Black. While he isn’t sure exactly why, it’s suspected couples that would normally eat with large families will do it alone this year because of the pandemic.
Bennet’s Creek Farm Market employees in Suffolk also said they saw a large increase in the number of turkey dinners ordered.
“I don’t see this going away anytime soon,” Black said. “People are getting used to eating at home. It’s become the new norm.”