Radford restaurant staff prepare for students to head back


RADFORD, Va. (WFXR) — Radford restaurant staff and residents are trying to keep up with changing coronavirus guidelines.

Radford City Council held an emergency meeting Tuesday, Aug. 4, to discuss the increase in the city’s population as students head back to Radford University.

Originally, Ordinance 1735 had three components, including a limited number on gatherings, early closures, and face coverings. The early closure was removed, leading restaurants to meet with Radford Mayor David Horton on Thursday, Aug. 6, to discuss how to implement their own guidelines.

Bruce Bailey, the owner of Riley’s, tried to explain the events of the past week or so that led to the meeting with the mayor on Thursday night.

“They were going to pass an ordinance that made us close at 10 o’clock, but they’re leaving it up to the bars to do what they’ve been doing and making sure we’re following the state guidelines,” Bailey said.

Rhianna Reddinger, a sophomore at Radford University, says she does not mind when restaurants close early.

“Whenever I see like a place close early, I can’t even be mad, because I know they’re just trying to do what they can to get stuff back to normal.” 

WFXR News spoke with bartenders, general managers, and restaurant owners in Radford about their hopes for the meeting, many of whom voiced their frustrations about the damage early closings had caused. At Sharkie’s and BT’s, staff moved seating and tables to the bar, to create distance so people will not be sitting directly at the bar, but can still enjoy the bartender’s company.

Robert Agliam, a bartender at Sharkey’s and Radford University student, explained he expects that many students will be looking for what is open Thursday night.

“I’m definitely expecting a bunch of people to come in and see if up top is open.”  

Thursday nights at Sharkey’s feature dimmed lights and — before the pandemic — a DJ. However, that has been discontinued until further notice.

Others have voiced their concerns about having to implement mask-wearing rules with customers. Although it has not been an easy road, those in the service industry who voiced their opinion say their partnership with the city will only help keep the number of cases down.

Trey Bussey, a Radford University graduate student, says he has already seen parties taking place.

“If they’re here at least there’s a better chance of them, you know, being safe and, you know, staying apart and not as much contact going on because if they close the bars early everybody is just going to leave and go to parties.” 

The penalty for violating the limit on gatherings is up to $300 for event organizers and $150 for individuals if they choose not to leave when asked.

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