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Some local restaurants are preparing for college students’ return

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 7:33 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - In just a few weeks, college students will head back to the Friendly City just in time for classes at local universities.

Downtown restaurant workers say they are preparing for the influx of students which includes working on their social distancing set-up or possibly closing some parts of the restaurant.

“You know, we’re all here, we’re all very open-minded to what is going on right now. We all understand it’s very serious, none of us, you know, take it lightly,” Hayley Ritchie, a server at Billy Jack’s, said.

Clementine’s will be open with socially-distanced seating, but Ruby’s Arcade will only be open for to-go and carry out.

Matthew Clancey is the executive chef and general manager of Clementine’s.

“We realized it was just too difficult to keep a safe environment for the staff or for our customers,” Clancey said.

Clancey said they are planning to see how it goes and open those sections when safe.

Billy Jack’s Shack and Jack Brown’s are also getting ready for all of the students. Aaron Ludwig is the owner of both restaurants.

“We’re chatting with all of our teams now, about what to expect and what is going to have to start happening. Everything from mask enforcement to sanitation to the table wipe downs and, you know, being able to keep everyone spaced out,” Ludwig said. His restaurants have shared an outdoor space during the pandemic.

Ludwig says one of the biggest things is safety for his staff members and will close earlier to hopefully reduce the late night crowd.

Harrisonburg police are also preparing for students’ return.

“We’ll be partnering with JMU to educate the students on local ordinances, such as alcohol violations, large gatherings, and this year we’ll be adding the governor’s restrictions to that education piece,” said Sgt. Chris Monahan of the Harrisonburg Police Department.

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