Some Richmond restaurant owners upset over city’s pause of Phase One

Updated: May. 15, 2020 at 5:49 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Friday marked day one of Phase One, but not in Richmond. The announcement coming at the 11th hour on Thursday, leaving restaurants and other businesses scrambling to figure out how to handle their plans.

After nine weeks, some Richmond businesses were ready for the green light Friday, but it will be stuck on red for another two weeks.

Jason Thrasher is the owner and manager of The Local, a pub near VCU’s campus. He’s already lost about $200,000 in sales over the past nine weeks and had to furlough his entire 30-person staff.

“Every day I’m sweating bullets and I’m counting the pennies when I have to buy anything,” said Thrasher.

He says he spent close to $3,000 getting ready for re-opening this weekend and had five employees ready to work. Then in a press conference Thursday afternoon, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced the city would request a delay in re-opening. The official decision coming down from the Governor’s office after 5 p.m. Thursday. Thrasher says he’s expecting to lose at least 40% of what he’s bought for the weekend.

“I thought it was poor timing... I thought the mayor and the administration showed poor judgment, and how it impacts businesses and the fact that he basically waited till eight hours before to do anything,” said Thrasher.

The Mayor’s Office says it requested information necessary to make the decision Monday and didn’t receive it until Thursday morning. NBC12 reached out to the Mayor for an interview Friday and was told he wasn’t available. Now restaurant owners, like Thrasher, have to wait at least two weeks.

“With us not being able to open until May 28, I’ll have three days to come up with another rent payment, another utility payment, all that and I’m already working with less sales,” Thrasher said.

Stoney is also asking any local restaurants with perishable food to donate whatever they won’t use to Feed More. Those who do will be reimbursed; the city has set aside $50,000 to help.

The Mayor also announcing Friday city offices and facilities will remain closed through May 31.

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