Alcohol to-go, food delivery: Restaurants adapt in the time of coronavirus

Restaurants and breweries across our region from Manassas to Fredericksburg have stepped up to the challenge to adapt to serving customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has banned all dining inside restaurants, and gatherings of more than 10 people anywhere in the state, in response to the CDC’s recommendations of social distancing in order to slow the spread of coronavirus, which requires people to stand at least six feet apart.

This has left many restaurants with only a few remaining options to serve the customers, to include drive-throughs and curbside pickup. Others have closed for at least the rest of the month, and others have shuttered until May.

Among those restaurants that have closed their doors for safety is Capital Ale House who has closed their location in Downtown Fredericksburg. Several sushi bars have also closed their doors, as has Woodbridge’s Charbroil Grill Brazilian Steakhouse.

Crossroads Tabletop Tavern in Downtown Manassas remains open to a small number of people but doesn’t allow them to gather to play games as they did before the ban.

Some restaurants like El Jimador Azteca in Stafford County remain open but have severely restricted seating to no more than three people at a time. Sakae Thai and Sushi in Fredericksburg has remained open but isn’t seating anyone in their restaurant.

Like El Jimador, Sakae is relying on takeout and delivery to keep afloat during these trying times.

Several restaurants are using this model to stay open, relying on their own delivery services, on businesses like Doordash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats, as well as offering curbside pick up.

But this hasn’t worked out for everyone. Okra’s in Downtown Manassas is one example of how a restaurant tried this model and it didn’t work out because it was financially unsustainable, according to a restaurant employee. That comes as the city instituted new parking restrictions, allowing people to park for only 15 minutes at a time to pick up food.

In the meantime, Okra’s has closed as a result but is trying to figure out a new way to bring service to the area, they told us.

One silver lining in this situation is the loosening of Virginia ABC alcohol regulations to allow curbside pick up of alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer.

Breweries such as Water’s End in Lake Ridge, Brew Republic Bierwerks in Woodbridge, Strangeways in Fredericksburg, and many others are offering curbside pick off alcoholic beverages like beer and wine as well as refills of growlers to take home and enjoy.

Water’s End has a video on its Facebook page that shows how this curbside pickup will work.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he wants to get the U.S. back open for business by Easter, on Sunday, April 12. He says the lingering effect on the economy could be worse than the coronavirus disease.

Overnight, leaders on in the U.S. Senate passed the largest bailout bill in U.S. history which includes a spending package of $2 trillion designed to simulate the U.S. economy. In it are bailouts for businesses and residents who have been laid off from work.

Now the bill heads to the House of Representatives for final approval before it heads to the president’s desk.

As of today, there were 44,183 cases of coronavirus reported in the U.S. with 544 deaths.

In Virginia, the state health department says there are 290 confirmed cases with 45 people hospitalized. A total of seven people have died in the state.

Locally, Prince William County has 23 cases reported (this includes the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park), while there are six cases in Stafford County and two in Spotsylvania.

Fairfax County leads the state in the number of coronavirus cases with 46. It is also the most populated jurisdiction in the state.

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