Staunton restaurants need to keep customers warm as “Dine Out Downtown” initiative extends into winter months

Staunton restaurants prepare for winter weather as outdoor dining initiative continues

STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - The streets of Staunton are alive with the sounds of music and people coming together to share a meal.

Earlier this summer, the city decided to block of portions of Beverley Street on the weekends as part of its “Dine Out Downtown,” initiative, aiming to help restaurants cater to more customers outdoors.

Shenandoah Pizza and Taphouse Co-Owner Amanda Alger said the move is helping keep the restaurant afloat.

“It’s been absolutely wonderful," Alger said. “It gives us seven extra tables of seating outside. We have very limited seating inside, only gives us ten tables following the governor’s guidelines.”

The initiative is supposed to last until the end of October. Now, it’s been extended until January 2021. The impending winter months pose a challenge: keeping customers warm.

“Now that we have it through the beginning of the year, then it’s just going to be looking at getting heaters and what that kinda looks like," Alger said. “Hopefully we have a very mild winter so that we don’t have to worry about it just being through the weekend.”

Hannah Lynch, assistant manager at Baja Bean Co., said their restaurant is trying to find ways to get space heaters as cheap and easily as possible.

“We’ll probably try to look second hand first I would guess to see if we can find an awesome deal. Or maybe look at renting," Lynch said. “The grant is always an option, which would be lovely.”

The restaurant is using its culinary skills to keep people comfortable outside, too.

“We’re gonna offer a hot apple cider cocktail, a hot chocolate kinda spike cocktail," Lynch said.

Both businesses said they’re planning on applying for any available grants to help buy heaters and other necessary items for serving outdoors. Until then, they’re asking people to bundle up and wear their mask.

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