'Almost normal again:' restaurants see improvement after restrictions are lifted

Tara Lunney is a bartender at Coaches Corner Grill in Purcellville, where business is picking up after restrictions were lifted March 1.

Restaurant owners in Loudoun County say they experienced a big boost in business over the past week after Governor Ralph Northam (D) lifted restrictions, allowing them to remain open and serve alcohol until midnight.

Starting March 1, Northam’s changes included removing the stay-at-home order from midnight to 5 a.m., allowing social gatherings for up to 25 people outdoors and extending alcohol sales until midnight. Mask-wearing and social distancing restrictions remain in place.

Restaurateur Curtis Allred told the Times-Mirror that while he noticed an increase in dine-in customers over the weekend, business was still down about 20 percent from last year.

However, Allred, who owns Delirium Cafe and Wild Wood Pizza, both located in Leesburg, said the community’s support has helped carry them through a difficult time. He said things are looking up.

“We saw a fantastic sales weekend in the historic district (Delirium,)” Allred said.

“Between the additional hours and the reintroduction of sidewalk dining on the block, I figure we all saw solid increases,” he said.

“We actually had more people in the building at 11:30 p.m. Thursday than we did on Friday and Saturday nights, but the 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. time slots were very busy, particularly outside with the bubbles and heaters,” he said.

“Wild Wood had wonderful traffic in the outdoor patio,” he said.

Tara Lunney, a bartender at Coach’s Corner Grill in Purcellville, said the restaurant took a “huge hit” during the pandemic. Fortunately, after restrictions were lifted last weekend the sports bar saw a “big boost in business,” she said.

“It’s been amazing to see business pick up over the past week; it’s almost normal again,” she said.

Lunney added that while customers are not yet allowed to sit at the bar, there are cocktail tables in the bar area, as well as tables indoors and outside on the patio, which she says is great during warmer weather.

At The Conche in Leesburg and La Prensa in Sterling, owner Santosh Tiptur said he also saw steady traffic over the weekend.

“We tend to see more people coming out to dine as the weather is getting better,” he said. “It will definitely be perfect to use the outdoor seating.”

Ford’s Fish Shack owner Tony Stafford agreed that the combination of warmer weather and extended hours were benefiting restaurants.

“We love warm weather and daylight,” he said. “It seems like the last couple of weeks have caused the guests in the restaurants to be a little more excited.”

“Let’s hope the trend stays,” he said.

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