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Takeout Tuesday: Area restaurants take catering hit, N.C. BBQ favorite readies new location

omars pick up window
currituck bbq new location.jpeg
Posted at 5:50 AM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 08:50:27-04

His new location all but ready to open, Paul Robinson had a choice: Wait for restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic to pass or take the leap.

"It's probably going to make us hemorrage less money," Robinson, who owns Currituck BBQ Company, told News 3 of his decision to open a second location this week.

Set on S. Hughes Boulevard in Elizabeth City, Robinson is planning to open on Wednesday.

It comes as his first location on Caratoke Highway in Currituck County is facing a 70 percent loss in business.

Open for 14 years, the location relies heavily on traffic heading to and from the Outer Banks, which were temporarily closed to visitors to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Robinson also says Spring catering orders were wiped out due to weddings and other events being canceled or postponed.

Restrictions across the state of North Carolina aren't set to expire until the end of the month and it's unclear if they'll be extended. Robinson is opening anyway.

"We're in a situation where a lot of our staff's been laid off already. This is an opportunity to get some of our people back to work," he said. "It'll at least employ people and give people jobs."

A few blocks away, Montero's Restaurant on McArthur Drive is also taking a huge hit from canceled catering orders. Owner Andy Montero says he's had to lay off 40 staff members.

The good news? Take out business is steady enough that Montero says he can still give back to the community by feeding seniors through Meals on Wheels.

"It was determined in the very first week that we're going to find a way. We were fortunate to stay busy enough to be able to," he said. "We've also started our own program which we refer to as Family Meal. We eat with our staff every day. Every two Sundays we are providing free food to anybody in the food service industry that is in need of food assistance."

Nearly 45 miles away in Norfolk, a takeout window is set up at Omar's Carriage House in the Freemason District.

The support is steady for the 22-year-old restaurant, management says, but servers, most of the kitchen staff and all catering staff have been laid off.

The restaurant says it caters 60-70 weddings a year, but all events through June are canceled, at least for now.

"We've had the restaurant for a long time, but [catering] is where we make our money so we've taken a big loss with that," said General Manager Shaina Sandler. "Fortunately to-go and delivery has been very good. We have longtime customers that have been supporting us."

This week, to celebrate its 22nd anniversary, Sandler says Omar's is offering a two-person dinner special for $22. She's also working hard to engage customers through social media.

Across the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, Stellar Wine Co. on High Street is doing the same, keeping customers updated on Facebook and Instagram about wine deals and its menu.

Mandy Tamplin has owned Stellar Wine for three years and tells News 3 this year was shaping up to be the most successful yet.

She and chef Robert Barker are doing everything they can to keep the place running, offering takeout wine and food and delivery to Portsmouth addresses.

"We're going to be here. We're going to keep working our tails off trying to provide the best possible food we can with some of the best wine we can," said Barker. "Some of our wine distributors are passing along really good deals to us as well. We gotta keep the chain going and hopefully everyone out there will keep giving us wonderful support."

Currituck BBQ Company
4467 Caratoke Hwy, Barco, NC 27917
(252) 453-6618
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

118 S. Hughes Blvd, Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Montero's Restaurant
414 McArthur Dr, Elizabeth City, NC 27909
(252) 331-1067
Hours: 4:30 p.m.-7 p.m.

Omar's Carriage House
313 W Bute St, Norfolk, VA 23510
(757) 622-4990
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 4 p.m.-8 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Stellar Wine Co.
425 High St, Portsmouth, VA 23704
(757) 773-2672
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 3 p.m.-8 p.m.