Blacksburg restaurants expand outdoor seating ahead of a busy summer season

But some owners say it doesn’t mean it won’t come without a challenge.
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 4:40 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - As summer rolls around and graduation approaches, restaurants in Blacksburg are bouncing back. Many places seeing more customers are expanding outdoor seating to meet the demand.

But it doesn’t mean it won’t come without a challenge.

The new patio near Centro Taco Bar, the Black Hen and Bar Blue is a part of an effort for restaurants to prepare for large upcoming events like Cinco De Mayo and graduations.

“They’re neighboring restaurants, two totally separate menus, but they’re coming together to help ensure both businesses succeed through the summer months,” said Jerry Smith, vice president of the Roanoke Regional Restaurant Group.

Owners say this is to prepare for a busy summer season.

“Having a street patio and expanding both restaurants is allowing us to meet those needs of more guests and staying within COVID regulations,” said Smith.

But owners and operators say the expansion does not come without challenges.

“It’s really tough right now to find candidates to come in and work,” said Smith.

Smith says before COVID-19 they had a large applicant pool, but now folks are hesitant to apply.

“That’s a bitter fight to find good candidates, but also not take away from our neighboring restaurants because we’re all in it together and we’re all pulling from the same pool,” said Smith.

Smith says it is going to take a combination of federal and local work to encourage folks to get back in the job market.

“Our ultimate goal is we want to try to get as much revenue back into the economy as we can because that supports everybody. We’re all in it together,” said Smith.

Owners believe with more people getting vaccinated, they’ll start applying and things will be a little closer to normal.

Folks at Centro also say they’re in the middle of an expansion. Once their rooftop patios are done, they will pull the patio off the street and put everything in their new complex, and then allow it to get back to street parking.

Until then, the spot is leased with the Town of Blacksburg until September.

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