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Restaurants see uptick in customers following lifting on COVID-19 restrictions

Updated: May. 30, 2021 at 9:27 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Restaurant owners in Charlottesville say they’ve missed the feeling of a packed house and the electric atmosphere that comes with a full dining room. Now that Virginia’s COVID-19 restrictions are over, they’re excited to get back to that sense of community within their walls.

“Right now the only restrictions we have are more self-imposed restrictions based on staffing levels in being able to execute to the level that we hold ourselves accountable to,” said Wayne Boone, the owner of the Sedona Tap House.

“We have different people involved across the board, we are rebuilding our labor staff, people are being trained from the ground up so it’s going to take us a little while to hit our stride again,” said Daniel Kaufman, the owner of Public Fish and Oyster.

Kaufman and Boone are preaching patience to customers while adjusting to full capacity limits and COVID restrictions being lifted.

“We’ve got the barstools that we never had,” Boone said. “We went 14 months without a seat at the bar. We’ve got condiments on tables that we never had. We’ve got menus that are not paper disposables.”

Both owners say there’s been a huge bump in people coming out to eat this weekend.

“I have seen an undeniable desire for people to want to come back out and dine again,” Kaufman said. “Unquestionably, I’ve never seen a demand like this before. The phone’s ringing off the hook, [the] bar is full the second we open to the second we close.”

“Actually we have more traffic this [Memorial Day] weekend than we did in 2019, pre-COVID, by guest count,” Boone said.

While the demand for eating out continues to rise, it’s going to take time for the staffing to catch up.

“We’re working towards getting staffing back up and hopefully in the next few weeks, we’ll be back to back to the good old days,” Boone said.

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