Albemarle Co. Lift Grant keeps Tavern on the James open and running

Inside Tavern on the James in Albemarle County
Updated: Sep. 2, 2020 at 11:16 AM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Tavern on the James in Scottsville is one of 59 small businesses to receive a grant from Albemarle County. The owners say if it wasn’t for the money, they would not be able to keep their doors open much longer.

“We wake up every single day looking and trying to find grants for help and it’s such a struggle,” Tavern on the James Co-owner Kelley Marshall said.

Spencer and Kelley Marshall have been building the restaurant since 2012. They never thought their business would take a hit from a virus.

“This restaurant requires at least $100,000 a month to pay the bills, and the last two or three months we’ve been losing $7,000 to $10,000 a month out of our pockets to keep the doors open. Our sales can’t reach what they need to reach to pay the bills with only doing half capacity and limited seating,” Spencer Marshall said.

The owners say on a slow night, they make $3,000. Now, that’s down to just $300 per evening.

“I would have never taken on a restaurant business that costs so much on a daily basis to keep it open thinking I can only take in $300 a day in sales,” Spencer Marshall said.

A few weeks ago, the Marshalls applied for the Albemarle County Lift Grant. They were awarded $50,000, but it doesn’t solve everything.

“If the government doesn’t take the restrictions away, we won’t make it passed January even with the $50,000,” Spencer Marshall said.

Emily Kilroy is the director of communications for the county and says the grants awarded to small businesses can be used for anything.

“This is a true grant program. The only thing they owe us in return is a report early next year on what they spent money on and how things went for them,” Kilroy said.

The grant funds were received through the CARES Coronavirus Relief Fund.

“We’re really hoping that these funds can be funds that can really help sustain companies to get through the worst times and then thrive as we continue to see reopening,” Kilroy said.

Businesses, including Tavern on the James, now have a second chance to remain open for the long-term.

“Without that we would either be closed, or we would be going deep into debt,” Spencer Marshall said.

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