As a way of assisting Middleburg's food service providers -- who are experiencing as much as an 80 percent decline in business over the past few weeks -- the Town of Middleburg is providing every household free food vouchers to use at the town's restaurants.
Mayor Bridge Littleton said the town printed vouchers that were mailed on April 2, with each home receiving 12 $20 vouchers -- one for each participating restaurant in Middleburg.
The vouchers are transferable and may be given to other residents who may have a greater need. They have no cash value and are redeemable through April 30.
Middleburg has budgeted $120,000 on the program, providing $10,000 to each restaurant.
The town has signed agreements from each participating restaurant stipulating that they will remain open through April 30, stay open at least four days a week and serve at least two meals per day.
Restaurants in Virginia are currently only able to provide curbside service, pickup or delivery during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We have made sure we have reserved the money in the budget for when the times were bad, and they are bad now. We have thought long and hard about how we can support the local businesses. They are substantial and incredibly meaningful and will dramatically help our community. We are not ending here – all ideas are on the table to figure out how we can touch the next circle of our community,” Littleton said at the Town Council meeting on March 26.
On Wednesday, Littleton told the Times-Mirror the program not only helps restaurant owners, but helps feed residents during a time of need.
“The fact that we can help restaurants and our citizens at the same time is what I love about it,” Littleton said.
Sam Rogers, general manager at Red Horse Tavern on Washington Street, said he believes the vouchers will have a "good impact, and it's a great program.”
Red Horse Tavern's business is down about 80 percent, and Rogers hopes the vouchers will be beneficial for everyone. He said he is concerned about his employees and wants to keep them employed as long as possible.
“I'm curious to see the return and assess and track people using it,” he said.
Littleton said the town plans to provide assistance to retail businesses, as well.
"It's times like these where you have to think creatively and dynamically for a solution which suits the problem," he said.