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'We were made for this' Doumar's continues curbside service through pandemic

Posted at 12:23 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 20:12:50-04

NORFOLK, Va. - As restaurants around Hampton Roads work to navigate new curbside and takeout service, one Norfolk staple has been perfecting it for years.

"We started here in the spring of 1934 as a small wooden building close to the street, and we've been here operating every since," said Thad Doumar, owner of Doumar's Barbecue.

Doumar's, the historic Hampton Roads landmark, has been delighting customers at the curb for more than 85 years.

"The barbecue is great; they do hamburgers like no other. Soda fountain cherry Cokes, milkshakes - so good," said Chris Mitchell, a repeat customer.

While the car hop curbside service might be a nostalgic thing of the past, it's working in the present climate due to COVID-19.

"We are fortunate that we were already set up for this," Doumar said.

Doumar's is known for bringing everything you need right to your car, like ketchup and mustard bottles, salt and pepper shakers and hot sauce.

"We are still doing that, but now we are very meticulous," Doumar explained. "We have to bleach each item and deeply sanitize after each customer's use."

Longtime customers like Mitchell are taking notice.

"I can tell, and I'm glad they are doing it," Mitchell said. "The bags of food actually smell like sanitizer."

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Doumar says while the drive-in business is booming, overall sales are down about 40%. Part of that is because they have had to close their dining room.

"It's a tough racket right now for everyone," Doumar said. "Luckily, though, I have been able to keep all of my staff employed."

Doumar says he hope customers will still come down to enjoy Doumar's favorites.

"People are stir-crazy. We hope this helps them escape and we can deliver them a smile," Doumar said.

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