Local eateries adapt in COVID-19 reality
Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 is a rapidly developing situation, and developments may impact what different restaurants are doing. Please call ahead to your favorite local restaurant or check their social media for updates before you go.
By Cathy Welch
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent social distancing orders, the industry hit hardest is the face-to-face services sector, particularly restaurants. More than 15.6 million people are employed in this industry, and restaurants are having to act quickly to evolve into a sustainable business to survive.
A lot of local businesses have put in place innovative measures to continue to serve the community and survive the coming weeks. The Yorktown Independent caught up with three of them to talk about what they’ve been doing.
Bean’s Ice Cream
“Bean’s Ice Cream is adapting to the current situation just like all my fellow Poquoson restaurants…with hope and determination,” owner Jenna Horning said. “We’re determined to stay positive and afloat during this time of uncertainty.”
Bean’s is offering its full menu via curbside and takeout.
“We’ve also added two new fun take-home kits detailed on our website to enjoy in the comfort of your own home,” Horning says.
Bean’s also is having a merchandise blowout sale featuring their T-shirts, hats, magnets and stickers. Their full menu is on their website, and orders may be placed by phone. Bean’s updates its Instagram (#beansicecream) and Facebook (Bean’s Ice Cream) pages with its latest specials and fun, new menu additions.
“We are beyond grateful to our community for their support and love while we find a new normal,” Horning said.
Bean’s Ice Cream
475-M Wythe Creek Road, Poquoson (behind Wells Fargo)
Open daily from 2 to 9 p.m.
Mobjack Bay Coffeee
For a year and a half, Mobjack Bay Coffee worked out how to bring people in their door. Now they have to keep them out.
“Life throws you all kinds of curve balls, and who would have ever thought the word ‘pandemic’ would ever come out of anyone’s mouth?” owner Celest Gucanac said. “For the safety of everyone in general, people have to stay away, and we have to follow the rules.”
Mobjack’s wholesale business will be its saving grace.
“We can still operate as a producer while following regulations,” she said. “Grocery stores still need to have products for people to buy and make at home.”
With the governor’s restraints on gatherings and who can come in the building, they narrowed it down and figured out how to navigate through that and still operate successfully as a producer.
Mobjack’s building is closed to the public, but they have an online ordering system for cafe food.
“The beautiful part of this is it forces you as a business to evolve very quickly and efficiently,” Gucanac said. “There’s no choice. Hope is not a strategy.”
People walking through Yorktown can order and pay by phone then pick up their food. Customers drive up front and order on the spot.
“We have evolved fast and furiously to meet the needs of the times,” Gucanac said. “Are you only going to order online from Amazon, or are you going to take coffee off your Amazon list and order our source-certified organic or conventional, Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trace Certified coffee roasted in Yorktown?”
Mobjack did have to tighten up its staff but looks forward to the day they can fully reopen.
“We are all sanitized and know exactly where everyone’s going and keeping well organized,” Gucanac said. “It keeps everyone safer and way more comfortable at work.
“We’ve created a very safe environment for everyone to do what we need to do to stay open as a business in the safest way we can.”
Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters
Historic Cole Digges House
411 Main Street, Yorktown
“The day all this stuff started to happen we began delivering to Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson and Yorktown,” owner Tamra Hogge said. “We’re trying to get new customers, and it’s working, because they’re calling every day.”
Poquoson Diner offers different daily specials that cater to a family of four. These meals are selling well and are offered with a free dessert or half-gallons of tea.
“Every night now we have a family dinner, and they’re going crazy awesome,” Hogge said. “Tonight’s family dinner includes a half sheet of lasagna, a half sheet of garlic knots, a half sheet of Greek salad and half gallon of sweet tea for $50, which should feed six to eight people. People are going nuts over it.”
Hogge said she hasn’t had to let any employees go. “My whole staff is still working except two older waitresses who asked if they could stay home,” she said.
“All my waitresses are now deliverers and carhop girls,” she added. “Because everybody’s being generous, my girls are making just as much money if not a little more right now. “
The diner temporarily shortened its hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Hogge recommends customers call to order. Its menu is at poquosondiner.com, and there is a Poquoson Diner Facebook page where daily specials are posted.
“I sent out a request: I’ll help anybody out in the world. Would you please just buy my food — that’s all I’m asking … and it went nuts,” Hogge said.
“I’m just hustling. That’s the best way I can put it.”
480 Wythe Creek Road, Poquoson