Roanoke business owners excited about Virginia’s lifted COVID-19 restrictions, but not all

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Coronavirus restrictions are officially over in Virginia, and local business owners are ready for the new change.

On Friday, May 28, dozens of people were seen out and about in downtown Roanoke celebrating the lifted restrictions.

Maria Lovell, a part-time employee at the Gift Niche, says it was a sight for sore eyes.

“We have seen a lot of people today, and everybody’s still being a little cautious,” Lovell said.

Lovell says she’s even seen a boost in travelers visiting the downtown area.

“They tend to come to the market and have lunch, or dinner, and shop a little bit,” Lovell said, “and we’re so grateful for that. We’ll take whoever we can get at this point.”

Just a few doors down from the Gift Niche sits Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint. General Manager Kevin Young says he’s feeling hopeful.

“It’s been a weird year-and-a-half for everybody, and we’re feeling good about moving forward,” Young said.

Like many businesses, the restaurant struggled to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It took a lot of adapting, definitely,” Young said, “we were doing take-out only for a couple of months and had the door locked. Then, we had our five tables spread out but no bar seating.”

While most business owners are excited about the new direction, some are concerned.

“It’s bittersweet because we still do not have enough help to cover both shifts,” said Renee “Butch” Craft, owner of the Roanoker Restaurant.

The popular eatery is still having to cut back operations. The business is currently closed for indoor dining after 3 p.m. on weekdays due to staffing issues.

WFXR News first told you about the story in early May.

Since then, Craft says no one has applied for any of their open positions.

“I wish I could say we had, but we are not getting any applicants in, and I just think that there’s gonna have to be a major change,” Craft said.

Until positions can be fulfilled, Craft says operations will continue to be limited. However, she’s confident that the issue won’t last for long.

“This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for, for over a year, but we’ll survive it,” Craft said. “We always do.”

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