Charlottesville restaurants look to community for support amid layoffs, closures

Charlottesville restaurants look to community for support amid layoffs, closures

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Empty tables, empty bar stools, and a bare bones kitchen staff is the new normal for Daniel Kaufman, the owner of Public Fish and Oyster and Pronto! in Charlottesville.

Statewide restrictions on groups of 10 or more are forcing dozens of restaurants in Charlottesville to close their dining rooms.

Owners are encouraging the community to step up to help them remain open.

"I'm a small restaurant, I have 11 tables and they are usually full from the second we open to the second we close. This place is full of people all the time." Kaufman said.

Kaufman and his neighbor Ben Clore own and operate multiple restaurants in Charlottesville. Clore co-owns Little Star and Oakhart Social on West Main Street. Both have decided to close their dining rooms.

“We laid off 63 people two days ago, our entire staff. Everybody from the dishwashers all the way up to general managers. We also worked very hard to provide our staff with health insurance, it’s something that we care really deeply about, and we had to cut that in the middle of a health pandemic, which feels horrible.” Clore said.

Kaufman had to lay off almost a dozen people this week. He says his fate is left in the hands of the community.

“We need you to get behind take out, we need you to get behind delivery, that needs to be the culture now. If you got to a grocery store you are going to come into contact with 100 people right now, you come in here you might see two people, its safer here," he said.

The pair says the only way some of Charlottesville’s staple restaurants will survive is by supporting them throughout the changes like purchasing take out or gift cards. But most of the damage has already been done.

“If the community really steps up, helps us out and orders food, I do think that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. But its not going to be for everybody.” Clore said.

Copyright 2020 WVIR. All rights reserved.