‘It’s like a rebirth’: Chesterfield residents, businesses take advantage of Phase One reopening

“It’s like a rebirth”: Chesterfield residents, businesses take advantage of phase one reopening

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - For Troy and Joyce Smith, Friday dinner at Mission BBQ in Chesterfield was an occasion two months in the making. This couple is just one of perhaps thousands taking advantage of phase one of reopening in Chesterfield.

“I hope it continues and they open us up to phase two real quick,” Joyce said. “I’m ready to go shopping too right after this.”

“It’s like a rebirth, it’s like being born again,” Troy said.

For the first time in over nine weeks, restaurants and businesses were able to reopen their doors and allow outdoor seating utilizing 50 percent of their capacity in addition to taking social distancing measures when seating customers.

For some residents, it was tough finding businesses with enough space.

While the current safety measure is a far cry from the way things were, the manager of Charred, Will McLaughlin, says he’s glad to begin rebounding from the losses he and many other restaurants took during the two months of restrictions.

“We do feel comfortable we are still taking every single precautionary stride we’re making sure everybody is socially distant,” McLaughlin said. “Some people are still wary of what to do and what’s the next steps moving forward and so we’re just taking it one day at a time.”

Kevin Healy barely had enough room to satisfy the more than 250 reservations Boathouse Grille in Brandermill received after he announced that the famed restaurant would be opening it’s doors Friday as Chesterfield County entered phase one of reopening after two months of restricted service from coronavirus.

"On a beautiful night like this, we had to turn people away, we were sold out within hours of announcing that we were seating people,” Healy said. “Tonight we have 250 reservations we have a large patio and even at a social distance and 50 percent occupancy, we still have great capacity.”

The Boathouse owner says he owes a lot of Fridays’ business not just to quarantine-fatigue, but to the fact that many of his reservations came from people escaping the reopening delays in Richmond.

“We had a lot of reservations at the Boathouse in Rocket’s Landing which is the city of Richmond, and those folks transferred over and now there in Chesterfield,” he said.

Thursday Governor Ralph Northam approved Mayor Levar Stoney’s request to delay the river city’s reopening to phase one citing concerns over a spike in positive coronavirus cases in the past two weeks.

“I cannot justify risking the health and safety of the residents of the great city of Richmond by moving forward with phase one,” Stoney said.

Healy says he’s limiting risk by implementing contactless payment.

At the tables you don’t have to touch a menu, you don’t have to hand a credit card over, the guests actually order their food from their smartphone, all of it is done for today," Healy said.

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