Restaurant owners looking ahead to phase re-opening

Restaurants looking to the future

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia is set to start its phase re-opening in just 10 days. But what does that mean for restaurants? While the full guidelines have not been released yet, the governor’s office said it’ll have a more detailed plan in the coming days.

If you look around Abuelita’s on Midlothian Turnpike you’ll see an empty dining room and no line, not their usual family-like feel.

“We wanna make sure that everyone is safe, we want to make sure that our customers are safe, so we have to make sure that they know we’re not taking orders inside. To me that’s been the hardest part," said Karina Benavides, co-owner.

For the past several weeks the restaurant’s three locations in Richmond, Chesterfield and Glen Allen have all been offering curbside pickup, as well as delivery. At the start their business dropped by 80%, now they’re at about 50%. As the owners look towards phase re-opening, they say they’re not sure what that will mean for them, but they say it’s going to take some creativity.

“So we’re actually working right now on a drive-through that we are about to open in probably two weeks, so maybe we can start leaning towards that way,” said Benavides.

They say their first priority will continue to be safety.

“We want to make sure that we’re not gonna be so restrictive, so we might take longer for us to re-open but we definitely want to be open where we are safe,” she said.

As for the employment at their restaurant, the owners say two people left because to get more hours, but they say at their Richmond location they have kept their staff of 10 employed.

Mayor Levar Stoney was at Abuelita’s, supporting Latino businesses on Cinco de Mayo. When asked what to do about employees making more collecting unemployment than they do working, he had this to say: “the goal is for those recipients to get back to meaningful work as quickly as possible and right now, I know there’s a back and forth on whether or not I can receive a larger sum on unemployment in comparison to actually working, if we can just get people back to work that should be the priority for those individuals who are currently recipients of unemployment benefits, the goal is for those recipients to get back to meaningful work as quickly as possible and right now that should be the priority.”

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