COVID-19 took its toll: The Banque in Norfolk closes its doors

Business

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Another Hampton Roads business has fallen victim to the pandemic.
But the owner hopes it won’t be for good.

The Banque, a popular hot spot in Norfolk for the country-western crowd, is closing its doors.

The Banque has seen a lot in the nearly 50 years they’ve been open. But the disruption that’s come with COVID-19 has been their hardest hit. The owner, Dennis Doughty, said deciding to close has been the hardest decision he’s ever had to make.

“When I drove into the parking lot today there were tears in my eyes ’cause I knew what I was gonna do,” he said.

He was headed to deliver the news to 20 employees that days before Thanksgiving, they no longer had a job.

“It’s probably the hardest decision I’ve ever made because there are so many people that depend on me and the Banque for their two-week check,” he explained.

Doughty said the beloved country-western restaurant and bar has been able to stay afloat over 47 years up until now.

“This last cut at 10 [p.m.] has crippled us and it has hurt my staff,” he explained, referring to recent business restrictions imposed by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. “We are at probably a third of what we use to do month to date, year to date.”

Not to mention the risk of transmission.

“I just can’t have waitresses and bartenders susceptible to COVID for very little business that we have been cut short,” he said.

They are asking for community support.

“If the community could just — if they could reach out to their officials tell them how much they, you know, love the Banque other restaurants. They need help, staffs need help. They need to push some kind of package through this time around again,” said General Manager Chrissy Clinedinst.

Doughty is confident this is not permanent.

“One of our shirts that says on the back ‘This ain’t our first rodeo’ … this is not our first rodeo. We’ve been through a lot and we will continue to carry this tradition and the Banque will make it.”

Doughty said ultimately no one knows what the future holds, but he believes in their store and their community.

So like the sign says, they’ll hope to see you soon.


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