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Hot spots for good food downtown

Restaurants in the core downtown area got their own curbside pickup parking spots this week thanks to a collaboration with restaurant owners and several city departments.

The spots are marked with signs and an X painted on the pavement. The signs designate that the parking is for 10 minutes only and gives the name and phone number of the restaurant.

“We’re very happy about it,” said Rudy Delgado, the owner at El Korita Restaurante. “The city has been doing a lot for us. They have been collaborating and very easy to work with so we can be open and keep going.”

Delgado said every form of support from the community is helping the restaurant’s workers.

Next door, Ryan Byrd, owner of Ryan’s Steaks and Cakes, said the curbside parking spots will be a help.

“It is kind of an added convenience, given this situation, for customers and owners, that’s for sure,” he said.
The state of Virginia is in Phase I of reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants are permitted to have outdoor seating at 50 percent capacity, and some restaurants have done that. However, some customers picking up their order don’t want to come inside.

“In these complex times, if we can create an opportunity to make it simple and make sure the customer service interaction is as easy as possible, that’s the goal,” Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said Friday. “When you look at the restaurants and what they’re trying to accomplish, the ones in downtown obviously don’t have a parking lot in front of them, so it can be a bit of a challenge.”

Hughes said staff from Traffic Engineering, Tourism and Economic Development went around to the restaurants in the downtown area and tried to work with as many of them as possible. There are 13 of the curbside pickup signs out so far at the following eateries:

  • Amici’s Pizza Café
  • Baron’s Pub
  • Boogie’s Soul Food
  • Brighter Day Café
  • El Korita Restaurante
  • Enhanced Nutrition
  • The General Public
  • Harper’s Table
  • Holland’s Country Gourmet
  • The Plaid Turnip
  • Ryan’s Steaks & Cakes
  • Sushi Aka
  • Uncork’d

Hughes said the goal is to make it easier for restaurants to serve customers so they keep coming back.

“We can work with the restaurants to make customers feel like we understand the process,” Hughes said. “It’s great to get that first call, but you really want to get the second and third and fourth.”