Several Waynesboro restaurant owners are having to tweak the way they do business because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Virginia announced Monday the state will close dine-in restaurants, which started at midnight on Tuesday. Restaurants and bars can remain open for carry-out, curbside and delivery services only.
“COVID-19 is serious, and we must act,” Northam said during a press conference on Monday. “It is now everywhere, or it will be soon.”
The order, which will last at least 30 days, allows essential businesses to stay open including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and health services.
“It’s been a pretty monstrous hit to business,” said John Stallard, owner of E&J’s Deli Pub on Main Street in Waynesboro near Lew Dewitt Boulevard.
“I don’t even know what to do,” said Merica Altau, manager of The Purple Foot on Broad Street in Waynesboro.
Experts working with Augusta Health said on Monday that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there is no evidence as of yet that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted through food. Take-out is still considered a safe option for customers, and local restaurants are all certified by the Health Department.
Two top recommendations for consumer safety measures regarding take-out orders include washing hands before and after eating, and that all packaging be sanitized and discarded as soon as possible, according to a daily update from Augusta Health.
The Purple Foot, which offers sandwiches, salads and alcoholic beverages, has been hit hard by the outbreak of coronavirus, Altau said.
“Every day is slower, and slower and slower,” she said.
On Saturday, only three or four orders were received, Altau said. Despite offering take-out options, business has nose-dived nonetheless, she said.
Other staff were let go, Altau said, and she has had to throw away much of the perishable food because there are not enough orders left to use it up. To help save on the electric bill during the slump, most refrigerators not in use have been turned off, she added.
While E&J’s has always offered pick-up as an option, Stallard said he is beefing it up since dine-in customers are not an option for a while.
“We’re allowing people pull up to the curb to where we can run it out to them,” Stallard said. “As long as they pay over the phone, or don’t need change if they’re paying in cash.”
E&J’s sells pub food, including wings, salads, sandwiches, tacos and shrimp and chips. Prices range between $9 and $12.
About 90% of E&J’s revenue comes from dine-in customers, Stallard said. He’s hoping by offering free deliveries on orders $30 or more within five miles of the restaurant, losing the dine-in revenue will not hurt as much.
With 60% of sales coming from food and 40% from alcohol, E&J’s has begun offering take-out or delivery of beer.
Since the outbreak, Stallard said his business has been adjusting accordingly, stepping up cleaning measures, controlling how customers enter and exit the building, and never allowing more than 10 patrons to eat in at one time.
“I’m only allowing one entrance and one exit out of the restaurant right now so we can keep sanitizing the door handles and the doorknobs. When we do that, we hit the restroom. We hit everything the customer touches, before and after they sit down,” Stallard said. “We’re doing everything in our power to do it the right way, do it the safest way possible.”
While E&J’s has so far retained its nine full-time staff members, Stallard said, an ever-changing situation keeps business unpredictable.
“We’re going to comply to any rules or regulations that are sent down to us any way that we can,” he said.