Richmond restaurant owner prepares for a boost in sales, following loosened alcohol restrictions


RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – This is the first weekend since Governor Ralph Northam loosened COVID-19 restrictions for restaurants, including pushing alcohol sales back and lifting the modified stay-at-home order.

Some restaurant owners are already seeing the effects of the changes.

The co-owner of Social52 Kitchen & Craft Bar told 8News they’ve had more and more customers trickle in through their doors because of the expanded hours, but there have been some challenges.

“The support really, really means a lot,” said Social52 Kitchen & Craft Bar co-owner Walied Sanie.

Because alcohol sales are now permitted until midnight, stretching the cut-off by a few hours, Social52 owners have been able to extend their hours until midnight Wednesday through Saturday.

Sanie said the restaurant’s servers were excited about the time extension, knowing they’d be able to work longer hours for more pay.

“Every little bit helps. Every hour helps,” Sanie told 8News Saturday.

However, like other restaurants, they’ve run into challenges lately. They weren’t approved for a patio out back of their restaurant, and during the 10 p.m. alcohol sales cutoff, some guests weren’t aware of the restriction.

Now, Sanie said they’re slowly seeing the benefits of the expansion of alcohol sales and extension of their hours.

“This week has been kind of a learning curve for a lot of people. A lot of people have forgot or may have not known, so it was nice that at 10 o’clock we didn’t have to rush guests out or quickly put their drinks in a to-go container for them,” Sanie said.

With more people getting vaccinated, Sanie said he thinks the confidence level of people going out to places like his restaurant has increased, which is driving their sales.

“People have the sense of we’re, you know, coming around the curve,” Sanie told 8News.

Sanie said it’s nice to not have to take drinks off the table at 10 and instead let customers enjoy their night out.

“We’re hoping that in the next coming weeks, as more people are out, and they talk about their previous visit from the previous night that they can let their friends and family know that it was open until 12,” he said.

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