Brewpub and distillery owner pens letter to Gov. Northam with recommendations on how to reopen restaurants

Posted at 12:09 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 21:22:32-04

HAMPTON, Va. - Randy Thomas, President of the VanGuard Brewpub and Distillery, wrote a letter to Governor Northam expressing his concerns for reopening restaurants.

Thomas and other restaurant owners put together a letter that was sent to Northam and other lawmakers about how they think the state should reopen when it comes to the food industry.

“We put together a list of things that we thought would be beneficial to the average restaurant owner,” Thomas said.

He is making and selling hand sanitizer and masks along with curbside pick-up.

“Our food sales and the restaurant is significantly down. We’re doing 10 to 15% of our normal volume through the curbside takeout,” said Thomas.

He, like many others, were listening to Governor Northam speak Monday about his upcoming plans to possibly reopen the state slowly on May 15.

“You’ll be able to go out and eat again, but restaurants will use less of their seating to spread people out,” said Northam. He said employees will wear face coverings and do more cleaning.

Thomas reacted to the news Monday.

“A little discouraged he’s not going to do it this Friday and he’s going to push it back another week, but I’d rather wait an extra week and get guidance that really does represent what we need rather than rushing into a decision that doesn’t make sense for local business owners,” said Thomas.

Right now, business owners are waiting for that exact guidance. Northam said they will be releasing additional guidelines for various businesses to help them with reopening.

Thomas sent the letter with recommendations to lawmakers throughout the state, including the governor and the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Business Task Force.

He said the recommendations take into account the size of facility when determining how many people should be allowed inside.

“We recommend the tables be no closer than 6 feet and that you have no more than eight seated at a time at a table because an average family could potentially have 6-8 in their family."

Thomas said each restaurant should have an employee safety plan, a sanitation plan and a social distancing plan.

He said some of his former staff are on unemployment and his next challenge is finding people to come back to work.

“They’re making more money now than they were when they were working full time. It’s tough to compete with that,” said Thomas.

He and others working to rebound as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the lives of each American.

To view the letter, click here.

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