NORFOLK, Va. — As of Wednesday, November 18, a total of 85 business owners requested heaters through the City of Norfolk's Open Norfolk program.
As a result of the effects of COVID-19, the City of Norfolk spokesperson Lori Crouch explained this is the first time city leaders have decided to offer free heaters to restaurants.
The first heaters will go to small, minority and women-owned restaurant owners.
Crouch said they are providing this service through the city's CARES Act fund.
“We’re trying to make sure small restaurants and locally-owned restaurants are able to continue to stay open and thrive," said Crouch.
The new normal for restaurant owners is to serve outdoors.
“The street patio service that we’re able to do is what’s keeping our doors open," said The Grilled Cheese Bistro Owner Dina Taylor.
Since the pandemic and newly added safety measures were enacted, Taylor turned to an all-outdoor dining experience.
“We’re going to continue to have our doors closed for dining in and I know that’s frustrating to a lot of people but we can’t afford to get sick," said Taylor.
Taylor explained she received an email from the City of Norfolk about getting some heaters for her restaurant.
“I was going to actually send an email today to see when they thought they might be sending those out," said Taylor.
Business owners can apply and register online for heating assistance.
“Our food is comfort food. So I feel people will feel comfortable coming in. Their warm clothing and having that extra heat and eating some grilled cheese," said Taylor.