Smith Mountain Lake business owners talk expectations for upcoming season

Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 5:14 PM EDT
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SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Va. (WDBJ) - As boats run across the waters of Smith Mountain Lake, folks there are hoping for a big splash this summer.

Many businesses weren’t sure what to expect heading into last season, but ended up doing well.

“Last March we had very warm weather come in, and so with that the pandemic hit right at that time, and so a lot of people started to flock to Smith Mountain Lake,” said Jessica Bishop, Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce ambassador.

Bishop says there was enough support for some businesses to expand.

One restaurant even changed its name and ownership - prompting a challenge as restrictions tightened.

“Especially being new business owners, we wanted to make sure that we were making the guests feel comfortable, making the staff feel safe in the work environment and just making sure that we’re following those guidelines,” said Ryan Walters, Drifter’s co-owner.

Despite the challenges, Walters and fellow co-owner Jaclyn Westfall say they did well last year.

They hope to do even better this year and fill up their seats if restrictions continue to be relaxed.

“Last year we did well and we were very pleased how we did in the midst of a pandemic, but I think both of us are definitely expecting this year, especially with some of the restrictions easing a little bit, that this year will be even busier,” said Westfall.

Bishop says things will start to pick up around the lake next month.

She says peak season usually happens around July, but business can carry into the fall.

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