Virginia Beach banquet transforms into market, ready for outdoor seating

Posted at 9:59 PM, May 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 07:00:22-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A local restaurant owner in Virginia Beach has had to get a little creative when it comes to food service during the economic shutdown.

Festival Center banquet hall on Atlantic Avenue has been transformed into The Market at The Shack. Owner Mike Standing said it’s helping the economy and his bottom line.

“At The Shack we were able to adapt and find a niche that provided service. Our sales are fine. They’re not what we’re accustomed to,” Standing said. “People can find poultry, fresh seafood, and then the fisherman, a lot of them were not able to do anything with their product so we worked together to make it all work out.”

Only 10 customers are allowed inside the market at a time. Once inside, you put on plastic gloves, take a tub for your food and you’re ready to shop.

Chris Miller of Virginia Beach has been to the market since it opened in April.

“It’s awesome,” Miller said. “Great little stuff. You can get fresh, local seafood.”

Outside the makeshift market there is another change to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Normally here, this is the bocce ball court,” said Standing.

The outdoor games have been removed to make way for outdoor seating. Standing recently bought tables and chairs to prepare for Gov. Ralph Northam’s first phase of reopening the economy.

On Friday, May 15 restaurants with permits for outdoor seating will be able to have people eat outside at 50 percent capacity. Social distancing rules will still apply but Standing said they’ll do it in a fun and safe way.

“You can’t get up and get your own drinks,” he said “We’ll have a cart going around, maybe a little bicycle, just fun stuff.”

Standing also owns Waterman’s and Chix on the strip. He said transitioning to only take-out service has been challenging.

He’s now revamping the banquet’s kitchen to be a full-service restaurant.

Standing said it’s time to start thinking about options to dine-in before the start of summer.

“We’re not going to wish away summer,” he said. “People are going to come. People want to be outside. People are ready to get out. We just have to do it safely.”