How are businesses adapting to phase 1 reopening? Cautiously


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Phase 1 reopening is underway, and that means outdoor dining.  

While many restaurants could be seen with rearranged setups to encourage social distancing and outdoor dining, some people were also seen out and about not adhering to distancing guidelines.

The boardwalk was full of people, and there were dozens of others on the beach. Some were sunbathing, which is still not allowed under Gov. Ralph Northam’s orders, and some were not social distancing while doing it, which was evident as Chopper 10 flew overhead. 

However, there were also many more examples of people social distancing, and the beach was not as crowded as an ordinary day as warm as Friday was.

Gov. Ralph Northam — as well as Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer — have encouraged people to follow the restrictions under the statewide executive orders. Northam is supposed to have a major announcement about the beach on Monday.  

Despite the sunbathers at the beach, the energy among businesses and patrons was energized on Friday, thanks to phase 1 reopening process.

“The city has been so cool. They are letting us put space outside our normal footprint so that we can practice social distancing,” Waterman’s Surfside Grill owner Mike Standing said.

Tables must be 6 feet apart. All employees have masks, and they are mandatory for staff, optional for customers like Dr. Mike Martin, who is just glad to be seen. He’s from Maryland and says what is happening in Virginia Beach is not happening in Maryland,  

“It’s hard to imagine you could get excited about having a lunch and a drink at an outside café, but my tail was wagging when I came to the door,” he said. 

Standing also owns the Shack which was not a restaurant, but will be now due to COVID-19. He spent $100,000 building a new kitchen for the new outdoor dining area. 

“You can show up to the Shack in about two weeks. You will have a full store, a nursery, a market with fresh seafood, beef. You will see an outdoor restaurant for about four to five hundred people,” he said. 

We found Virginia Beach resident Gabby Malesky sitting at the Shack.

“It’s exciting. We’ve been waiting so long to come here. Everyone wants to come out, but a lot of people are also scared, but it’s nice out here. It’s awesome. Everything is really far apart and everyone is taking precautions,” she said. 

At Waterman’s Surfside Grille, they are busy setting up outdoor tables. Staff members wear masks, gloves, and follow many safety regulations.

We found former Norfolk School Board member Brad Robinson.

“I’m just so grateful to get outside and interact socially. Again, we are practicing social distancing but this is a good first step,” he said.

Virginia Beach resident Haley Stahl was at the Shack and impressed with those serving with masks and gloves.

“Yes, I think they take a necessary precaution, and they have been very careful but not looking too far in advance trying to integrate back into society, which I think is good,” she said. 

Phase 1 also allows barbers and beauticians to reopen with stipulations. 

Gregory Dagres hasn’t been open to cut hair for 53 days since March 24. He can now open by appointment only, and all customers remain in their car until called to sit in the chair.

“I know that I’m swamped. We are taking appointments only for the next three days, and it looks like Monday might be booked too,” he said. 

Dagres’ customers like Robert Scott are happy to see him.

“This is heaven. It has been six weeks and no haircut. It is driving me crazy. No trim. I look like Santa Claus,” he said.

Some of the barber and beautician industry also feels insulted that they were closed down for nearly two months because Northam put them under non-essential businesses.

“We were given a disservice by the governor that we couldn’t open.  We were told we couldn’t service our customers. Now that I’m back, I don’t need to worry about that,” he said.

Robert Scott thinks the barber is actually more essential than the guy selling liquor.

“I think a barber is an essential business.  I don’t think liquor stores need to be open. I don’t think that’s an essential business.”

Meanwhile, restaurant owner Standing says he’s just happy to be taking strides forward.

“We want to say thank you very much to the public for observing the rules. We want this to work.  We don’t want to mess up with the governor. He has allowed us to respect our city, and we are working very hard to prove to the governor that we are responsibly opening,” he said.

And then there is Typhanny Ladner, the owner of the Tempt Restaurant Lounge.  Tempt is really an indoor facility.  It is not helped by the current “outdoor dining only” order. 

However, Tempt is helped by the city ordinance allowing restaurants to offer “outdoor” dining on parking lots — which Ladner is now doing.  

It is tent time in the Tempt parking lot.

“I’m so proud of the city, that they are helping out their business owners. Everybody has been suffering.  I’m really proud that they made this decision,” Ladner said. 

Ladner has created about 40 seats in the parking lot.

“We have created a new restaurant … weather-permitting,” she said. 

It is certainly much better than nothing.

“I think we are in trouble.  We are in the hole for sure, but this is great, and people are ready to come out and support us. It’s just we have to pray for great weather,” she said.

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