‘It’s been tricky’: Henrico restaurant expands outdoor dining setup amid pandemic, colder weather

Henrico County

HENRICO, Va (WRIC) – Winter weather and the ongoing pandemic is creating a new challenge for restaurants throughout Central Virginia.

The Grapevine, a Greek and Italian restaurant in Henrico, is working like many establishments to expand outdoor dining​ keeping customers warm.

The Grapevine started the pandemic with tents, but now, they’ve rushed to build a gazebo just in time for the colder temperatures.

“It’s been tricky, really tricky,” said Mitchell Trak, owner of The Grapevine.

And it’s no secret that COVID-19 has brought challenges to restaurants and their owners.

“People are, you know, they don’t want to go into the dining room, they don’t want to walk in the dining room, so you’ve got to really make some changes,” said Trak.

Trak says those changes started months ago when they received money from Henrico County.

In May, the county offered support to restaurants opening outdoor dining areas.

“They definitely guided us the right way,” Trak said.

Trak requested a permit to build a gazebo before the pandemic. He said they sped-up construction due to the high demand of people wanting to eat outdoors.

“I think we’d be in trouble without it,” Trak told 8News about the restaurant’s addition.

With colder weather here, they’ve added these heaters too, and Trak says the gazebo allows for more room to space out customers.

Grapevine regular Michael Kord says the restaurant, a staple in the community for nearly 30 years, has adapted well to COVID-19 restrictions.

“When the pandemic first started, they were really responsive to the curbside pickup,” Kord said.

Trak, like other restaurant owners, says despite COVID-19 setbacks, they’ll continue to push forward.

“Decline in banquets, catering. All the weddings have been canceled, but luckily, the takeout, curbside, delivery end has been busy,” Trak said.

Right now, The Grapevine has propane heaters in the gazebo, but staff plans to install electric heaters in the near future.

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