NORFOLK, Va. — Downtown Norfolk Restaurant Week is officially underway! This week you can score deals on lunch and dinner at more than a dozen restaurants in the city.
Restaurant managers say it’s a big week for business owners.
Freemason Abbey restaurant is a downtown Norfolk staple in a 149-year-old church. But like many other restaurants, the past two years hit the business hard.
The restaurant’s executive manager Lori Maddux said during the last Norfolk restaurant week, her team dealt with a common problem -- being short-staffed.
“It’s not been fun to be in the restaurant business. [Being] short staffed made it very difficult. Very difficult," Maddux said. “We’re very excited because finally, we’re back to a little more normalcy than we’ve had in the past couple of years. January restaurant week, we were short staffed and it snowed to where we were closed all day on Saturday and Sunday morning, as well. So we’re real excited because we are finally staffed to where we need to be.”
Across town at Stockpot, sous chef Gabby Wellington said her team also contended with staff shortages.
“It’s definitely a struggle. We’ve been back and forth with staff," Wellington said.
They've also faced rising food costs and pandemic-related supply chain issues.
“Especially with chicken and eggs and stuff, the cases have gone up so much, especially the avocadoes," Wellington said.
But things are looking up: Wellington and Maddux say they no longer have staffing problems this summer.
“I feel like we struggled mainly in the beginning, but it’s been pretty good so far," Wellington said. “Especially since 2020 hit, everyone is very, very supportive and we’re very thankful for that.”
And through restaurant week, chefs at places like Stockpot and Freemason Abbey have a chance to entice new customers and encourage people to come back.
“We put a lot into it. We try to make it real attractive where people feel like they’re getting a good value, a good deal, and we add something that’s not on the menu, normally," Maddux said.
For a list of participating restaurants and a look at the menu. visit downtownnorfolk.org/explore/restaurant-week.