Newport News kicks off Restaurant Awareness Week to help support restaurants impacted by pandemic

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Posted at 8:53 AM, Jan 09, 2021

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Restaurant Awareness Week kicks off on Saturday and gives visitors a chance to visit some of the city's featured restaurants as they try to stay in business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"You will see what they've been going through for COVID, some of the community help that they've been doing to get through this time period," Cheryl Morales, the marketing manager for the Newport News Tourism Development Office, which organizes the annual promotion, told News 3.

There's a special add-on to the annual event for 2021: participating restaurants will also get to feature specials for take-out. Restaurants throughout the region have had to adapt by adding take-out options as a result of the pandemic and restrictions prohibiting sit-in dining.

"Restaurant Week is normally a time when people come to our restaurants, dine, and choose from a pre-fixed, pre-assorted menu," Morales said.

One of the participating restaurants is Vedeat -- A Nepalese restaurant that infuses Nepalese cooking with an American touch.

The restaurant's owner, Praju Sapkota, told News 3 they opened their restaurant in July 2020 just as the pandemic seemed to be letting down and before it picked up again.

"We had just started to grow; it had just started to get busy and then all of a sudden the pandemic hit," Sapkota said. "We kind of had to close for a few months and now we're starting back."

There are 20 participating restaurants this year that offer an array of breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. Vedeat offers meals for all meal times, including dinner. One of Vedeat's dishes is called Chatamari -- A rice flour pancake with seasoned chicken, egg, and spices.

"It's one of our traditional Nepalese breakfasts, lunch, you can eat it any time," Sapkota said.

On Warwick Blvd., husband and wife-owned Rick & Libby's is welcoming the chance to win over some new customers.

It's current base is largely 65 and over, owner Rick Lugent says, and because they fall into the high-risk category for COVID-19 have chosen to stay home.

"We've been involved in restaurant week since we've owned this restaurant and I think it's done well for our business," said Lugent. "Just the awareness of bringing people that don't generally come to our restaurant in the back of a shopping center."

The menu features comfort food like meatloaf, burgers and pizza on Mondays.

Waitress Wendy Morgan says even with to-go options, it's been a struggle making ends meet.

"It's horrible. I had to get another job, which I'm still not making what I used to with two jobs now," she told News 3.

Restaurant Awareness Week is a two-week-long promotion and ends Saturday, January 23. The promotion also includes two contests each week where participants have the chance to win $50 gift certificates to one of the featured restaurants.

More information on Restaurant Awareness Week, as well as the participating restaurants and contest details, can be found on the promotion's website by clicking here.