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Despite pandemic, local smokehouse shows how 'Small' can be mighty

Posted at 4:56 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 17:17:45-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Their name may be "Small," but their hearts are big.

"We're just trying to cook fresh food and serve it as fast as we can," said Logan Small.

On the menu you'll find chicken, ribs, brisket, pork and more coated in a slew of salivating sauces keeping Small's Smokehouse and Oyster Bar in Norfolk open for nine years.

Yet, for the first time in almost a decade they're closing on Tuesdays. The new hours are from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Wednesday - Sunday.

"We'll reallocate everything - all the other efforts, all your staff, all the proteins - everything to those five days," Small said. "Hopefully I don't lose business and sell less weekly because I had to drop a day."

Owning a restaurant is now a balancing act of sorts, Small said. He points to another consequence of the pandemic, which is less foot traffic at neighboring Old Dominion University.

"So, it's the small amount of tourism that Norfolk has. [We see more people during basketball season]; there's some ODU baseball, the graduations. [It all adds up]," said Small.

Not only do they have indoor seating, but they also have a large outdoor patio area. Small said it unfortunately doesn't get used as often as it should because the restaurant only has one server that takes care of both the inside and outside dining areas.

"If I have more work in the kitchen to do and I can't come out here to help my server - one server - to prepare for the day, we just have to start saying, 'Hey we're not gonna open the patio today,'" Small said. "A lot of times we'll just have to deny letting somebody sit out here because of the lack of staff."

Small said they're down about 18 employees and are looking to hire.

"You can't run a business without your employees," he said. "We need bartenders, servers, cooks, etc."

While dine-in and to-go may pick up some days, "the problem is that you might sell out of food for two days and then sell nothing on the third."

He's hoping for more consistency and for the community to see their sacrifices before it's too late.

Related: Local family-owned restaurant chain cuts hours despite crowds

"We're doing the best we can. We're running on a very short staff; no one's making money; some bills don’t get paid, you know, and it's either you understand or one day you're going to lose a lot of restaurants; you're going to lose resources."

If you are interested in joining the team, please email taylor@smallsodu.com.

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