VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - It was a dream years in the making for Ryan Hines and Jay Kulas.
On February 12, they opened The Rustic Spoon on Pleasure House Road to big crowds and great success.
Six weeks later, the doors were closed with COVID-19 restrictions shuttering dine-in service statewide.
"I refuse to go out without a fight," Hines told News 3 in April.
Facing an 80 percent drop in sales, the brunch-oriented Rustic Spoon added dinner options and later hours to stay afloat.
Weeks later, the adjustments remain in place and Hines says the restaurant is still struggling to make money, but it's also still open and operating.
"The local neighborhoods, (234)55 zipcode is what everybody says, they've definitely been coming in, strong presence. We're on the NextDoor app so a lot of people have been doing that. I added myself to the Thoroughgood neighborhood Facebook page and they accepted me," said Hines.
Another piece of good news for the business owners came when Virginia announced Phase One of reopening its economy on Friday, allowing restaurants to seat people outdoors; up to 50 percent capacity as long as they practice social distancing.
The Rustic Spoon brought in tents for its patio area to make sure people could sit, rain or shine. Staff is wearing masks and gloves and sanitizing frequently to keep the space clean, Hines says.
"I feel lots of love from the neighborhood, lots of love from Virginia Beach and surrounding business owners. Lots of other restaurant owners have been coming in, checking us out and we're trying to support each other," said Hines.
There are still challenges though.
Hines tells News 3 rehiring laid off staff has been difficult because they make more earning unemployment than he can pay them. He says other restaurant owners are experiencing the same problem.
The Rustic Spoon is also having trouble getting the word out about its dinner options; another factor that's making it hard to make ends meet, but Hines maintains he's determined to make it.
The Rustic Spoon is located at 1658 Pleasure House Rd Suite 101, Virginia Beach, VA 23455. It's available for outdoor seating and takeout orders by calling (757) 937-8930.
Head to its Facebook page for the latest on hours and menu options.