Mechanicsville restaurant continues to operate after VDH suspends its permit

Coronavirus

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Calabash Seafood restaurant in Mechanicsville has been serving food for almost two weeks since the Virginia Department of Health suspended its restaurant permit for not enforcing social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.

This is the first known restaurant in Central Virginia to have its permit suspended due to violating Executive Orders 62 and 65 — disregarding Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 restaurant requirements.

Debbie Mitchell, who ate at the restaurant over the weekend, says the servers inside the location were not wearing face coverings.

“We kind of mentioned that and thought, ‘that’s kind of scary.’ I’m not sure what to say, but we just went ahead with it,” Mitchell said.

She said she was also unaware that she was eating at a restaurant that had its permit suspended.

“I’m just really shocked that if the state took away their license — that they don’t have somebody here enforcing that,” said Mitchell. “That they would let people still be able to go in there.”

The Hanover Health Department has received around 25 complaints since May 14 about patrons and employees at Calabash Seafood violating the governor’s executive orders regarding the coronavirus.

VDH Environmental Health staff decided to suspend the permit after an inspection conducted with the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority on July 27, according to the VDH.

Environmental Health staff investigated the complaints made about the restaurant and observed violations of Gov. Northam’s ‘Phase 3’ guidelines during each visit.

VDH says they attempted to educate the owner, Dennis Smith, on the regulations.

A manager from Calabash Seafood spoke to 8News in Richmond and denied the suspension saying “they’re trying to suspend it.”

The VDH said, “the agency may seek criminal misdemeanor charges against the owner or file an injunction in court where a judge would order Mr. Smith to close.”

Virginia’s online complaint form can be found at this link.


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