UVA trying to help Corner-area merchants boost sales by adding outdoor seating

UVA trying to help Corner-area merchants boost sales by adding outdoor seating

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Many restaurants on the Corner have seen a decline in business during the coronavirus pandemic, but the University of Virginia is trying to boost their sales by putting up a tent to encourage students to safely dine outdoors.

“We’re down half of what we would be at this time,” Take it Away Sandwich Shop Manager John Allietta said.

The sandwich shop has been open on the Corner for 28 years. Once COVID-19 hit, business slowed down dramatically.

“We’re doing curbside, and taking orders out here on the sidewalk and picking up orders. Grab and go, basically,” Allietta said.

The restaurant shutdown for four months at the beginning of the pandemic. It opened back up in August thanks to a grant and students returning to UVA Grounds.

Even with more people in the area, many merchants needed extra assistance.

“Some of these folks have been on the Corner literally since I was a kid growing up here,” UVA Assistant Vice President and Associate Dean of Students Julie Caruccio said.

Caruccio says students helped think of the idea to put a tent up to create more space for members of the UVA community to sit, work, and eat food from restaurants on the Corner.

“The tent went up about a week-and-a-half ago. It’s a partnership with Corner merchants to try and facilitate both safe gathering as physically distanced as possible, but also recognize that businesses are affected by the pandemic,” Caruccio said.

The tables in the tent are cleaned every day, but students are encouraged to sanitize them before they leave.

“If you’re sitting at the table and you can maintain at least 6-foot distance you don’t need to be masked, because you’re outside. But, we’re encouraging masking everywhere on Grounds as much as possible,” Caruccio said.

Merchants on the Corner may be doing business differently these days, but Allietta says the experience remains the same.

“The Corner is still a great place to come out and get lunch and hang out,” Allietta said.

The University of Virginia says it is looking into putting sanitizing stations inside the tents in the future.

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