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Virginia Beach restaurant gets creative with to-go parking lot seating

Restaurants are facing a new way of life as they work to survive off to-go and delivery orders.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia restaurants are facing a new way of life as they work to survive off to-go and delivery orders. Many business owners still have questions about the ruling, particularly can they utilize outside or patio space?

Virginia Beach restaurant Lil’ Bit Nola is in a different way. They opened back in November and had just started to see sales soar.

"That’s what every business looks for and then, of course, this hit and all of that changed,” said Lil’ Bit Nola General Manager Mark Conway.

Virginia’s coronavirus restaurant restrictions had Conway wondering how to keep the doors open and still connect with customers.

“Wanted to give the public something to keep their spirits up, keep them positive,” Conway said.

He knew they couldn’t sit inside, or close together outside. But why not out in the parking lot, spread 10 feet apart?

Conway has three tables out-front that to-go customers can enjoy if they choose. One is reserved for police and first responders.

“We are not taking things out there, everything is still to-go,” Conway said. “But at least give them as responsible seating as we could.”

But, does this space this stretch the governor’s ruling? Restaurants at the Oceanfront also wonder about using their patio spaces.

The Virginia Beach Health Department’s Environmental Health Supervisor Tamara Hartless said they are strongly urging curbside take out, without leaving the car. She said the idea is for people to place an order, get their food and then leave.

She said anyone outside of a restaurant must maintain social distancing. The 10-or-less patron rule counts for the entire property.

She also said that facilities with any type of self-service of foods or drinks must be eliminated.

“It has just been a couple people here and there, or even just someone by themselves, that wants to get out in the sun,” Conway said.

Conway said he keeps an eye out for too much traffic. He also has staff sanitize the tables and chairs daily, and after someone uses them. They are also brought inside at night.

He hopes his idea helps people take a breather during this time.

“A place to sit down and eat, not inside their car,” Conway said. “Maybe a break from being a little stir crazy in their house.”

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