Richmond restaurant owners lament timing of city’s ‘phase one’ delay

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — Hours leading up to an expected partial reopening of Richmond restaurants, Governor Ralph Northam approved a request from Mayor Levar Stoney to delay, leaving some restaurant owners up in arms over the timeliness of the delay.

“Now, really?” asked Kevin Healy, owner of HOUSEpitality Family, a restaurant group including The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing.

Healy says he does not necessarily oppose the reasoning behind Stoney’s request, but takes issue with how closely it butted up to most of Virginia’s partial reopening known as ‘phase one;’ which would have allowed restaurants and breweries to re-open outdoor seating up to 50% capacity.

“We furloughed our staff which means they are no longer eligible for unemployment, ” Healy said, and money was already spent on food, and 150 reservations have been cancelled.

Stoney said Thursday that his request to delay reopening was mainly due to data, saying the percent positivity rate for COVID-19 doubled in the last two weeks. Figures he said did not come until yesterday.

At Pies and Pints on Broad Street, owner Stan Warr says the delay is a bruise on an already damaged revenue stream.

“We’ve lost about half our revenue so we were really looking forward with the good weather that’s arrived here in Richmond to getting some of our revenue back on the patio,” Warr said.

Michelle Williams with Richmond restaurant group says restaurant owners “need better communication,” and said the governor‘s ‘phase one,’ detailed last Friday, did not provide enough time to have her restaurants turn the lights back on.

“If we could plan now for what we have coming down the pike in two to four weeks it would make an enormous difference for us,” Williams said.

Mayor Stoney tweeted Friday that restaurant owners who planned to have customers outdoors may have perishable food on hand, and can be donated to FeedMore for a reimbursement.

Stoney said restaurant owners will receive specific guidelines for reopening, though the city’s delay authorized by the governor indicates ‘phase one’ in the city will not occur before May 28.

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