Local restaurants ditch outdoor seating for safety during Phase One reopening

Posted at 2:54 PM, May 19, 2020

NORFOLK, Va.— While many restaurants are excited to finally be in Phase One of Virginia’s reopening, some say it’s too soon to for outdoor seating.

There’s only one table outside of Codex restaurant in Norfolk, and it’s not for outdoor dining. It’s to caution guests against coming inside. On top of the table reads, "Stop! Do not pass this table! We are not letting any guests inside. For assistance please call 757-9626990. Thank you!"

Ian Hock is the owner and head chef of Codex. He has plenty of space to set up tables in the parking lot but chose not to.

“I’ve seen some great things that people have done with their outdoor patio, but it’s just not for us,” says Hock.

While many restaurants eagerly reopened for outdoor eating since Phase One started Friday, Hock says he and most of his staff feel it’s too soon to gamble with serving guests, and so they’re sticking with porch pickups for now.

“Everything is not about money, you know. I think I value the safety of our community and our staff and myself and my family over the monetary increase that may occur,” says Hock.

Codex isn’t alone. 80/20 Burger Bar on 21st street wrote in a Facebook post that they are still in the process of weighing the cost verse benefits so for now they are a curbside/to-go restaurant only.

“There's still a lot of uncertainty, so I think a little more certainty and seeing the cases really drastically drop would make everybody feel a little more comfortable— myself, my staff, and I’m assuming the customers as well,” says Hock.

Over in the Riverview section of the city, Blanca Food and Wine says they need more time, too. They posted a message on Instagram saying servers are worried and Virginia needs more time to see cases decrease.

“I don’t think there’s any wrong way to approach the situation and I applaud those that have [opened for outdoor seating],” Hock explained, but he says he’s worried that a rush to re-open could have devastating consequences.

Related: Restaurants adjust to Phase One reopening that requires outdoor seating

“If it becomes another hotspot due to people outside dining or the proper precautions weren’t taken, then that does make me a little bit nervous."

Hock says he’ll be watching the COVID-19 case closely and hopes to start seating guests on the gravel by Phase Two of reopening.

“I think if we can play it safe and keep, you know, paying our bills, which we’re edging by, and we’re able to do so at this point, I think we’ll be better set up for the long haul.”

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