Two Richmond restaurants closing amid COVID-19 pandemic: ‘These are two of our favorites, I’m crushed’

Business

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– Two additional restaurants in Richmond are closing, as owners continue to struggle to keep their doors open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dutch and Company, located on N. 27th Street, posted the announcement Thursday night via social media.

Nota Bene, located on E. Main Street in Shockoe Bottom also told customers via social media that the restaurant would be closing.

Each post has garnered hundreds of reactions. Fusun and Carl Sulzbach live in the Church Hill area right down the road from Dutch and Company.

“These are two of our favorites. I’m crushed,” said Fusun Sulzbach.

Victoria Deroache has been the owner of Nota Bene for the last five years. Deroache opened the restaurant in December of 2015. Due to the pandemic, she’s now saying goodbye to her customers.

“I knew that this day was coming and it was really a matter of how to best serve my staff,” said Deroache.

Deroache says she hoped the announcement would give staff time to file for unemployment before the business shuts down Sunday night. The restaurant is currently for sale.

On March 15th, Deroache closed the restaurant and had to lay off 18 of her employees. She switched to take out only and no longer offered indoor dining. Instead, she opted for tables outdoors for customers that felt comfortable. She realized Nota Bene could no longer continue as a traditional restaurant.

“If you were going to grab wine, you could grab it here instead of going to the grocery store,” said Deroache.

Customers could pick up food items like pizza and pasta. They could also stop by for items to entertain at home, including wine, olive oil, tomato cans and glasses.

But, with new Virginia COVID-19 restrictions implemented in November, establishments like bars and restaurants are required to cease on-site alcohol sales by 10p.m. and must close by midnight. According to Deroache, she had a lot of customer support. She told 8news, customers appreciated her for honoring their comfort level. But, she could not afford to stay open.

“You need to flip a restaurant twice or three times at full capacity to make money. That’s how servers make their money. That’s how this works and in a pandemic it couldn’t work anymore,” said Deroache.

In a Friday press conference, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said that businesses in the state need more aid.

“The one thing I would say, for our economy right now, restaurants have been hurt, hotels have been hurt and small businesses. We need another relief package in Virginia. There are a lot of people hurting whether it’s people who lost their jobs or their businesses so we encourage Congress to take care of that,” said Northam.

Deroache suggests that customers continue to shop local.

“If you can’t physically go out to a store, get a gift certificate from some place local. Go to a local book store. Don’t go on Amazon. I know its easier to do that and I’m guilty of the same thing but try to think of the small people who might not be here the next time, and you’ll be sad when they’re gone, said Deroache. “This is the fabric of what Richmond is and we need to show love and be kind as much as we can. Everyone is going through something right now.”

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