Old Dominion University businesses face uncertainty with fewer students on campus, no fall sports

Posted at 1:54 PM, Aug 21, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. - Norfolk has a population of around 242,000, but that number swells by 25,000 when classes at Old Dominion University are in session.

ODU will reopen for the fall semester on August 29 with a mix of in-person and virtual learning. Fall sports have been nixed.

"We can already tell there are fewer people around, we feel a bit of a hit," said Tarah Morris, owner of Perfectly Frank in the Monarch Way section of campus.

Her comfort food joint is steps away from campus, which will likely be quieter with fewer students on-site this semester. Morris, however, remains hopeful those taking classes in-person will stop in to fill up on her famous franks.

"It's a comfortable spot to come, they know they can come here and be themselves," Morris said.

Down the street at Del Vecchio's, they are serving up their usual lunch crowd, except this year it's more construction workers than students.

"Normally we get a lot of staff that comes in over the summer, and when school starts we have lots of kids and people just walking around campus, but this year it's not like that," said owner Melody Kendrell.

The Monarch staple is a hot spot for late-night pizza and subs. Kendrell says she misses having a front-row seat to what's happening across the street.

"For 13 years we get to see them graduate, homecoming parades and more," she said. "We get to see the same families and kids for four years, when they are freshman to when they graduate."

Both restaurants say their biggest concern is how their businesses will fare with fall sports being canceled.

"During football season we are packed, we are a local favorite and we won't have that this year," Kendrell said.

"Our plan is one day at a time. We are adapting and we will fight through this - we aren't going anywhere," Morris said.