Survey will help Southside restaurant owners continuing to face COVID-19 impacts

Whether it’s money lost or staffing shortages, many continue facing challenges

A new survey is hoping to take a bite out of COVID's impact on restaurants across Southside Virginia.

DANVILLE, Va. – A new survey hopes to bring relief to restaurant owners across Southside.

The coronavirus pandemic and its state guidelines have forced businesses nationwide to make change after change. The story is no different for a local Danville dive.

“We closed last March, and we reopened at the end of June as soon as the mandate was lifted,” Tara Clayton says.

Clayton has worked as the manager at Mama Possum’s, a Danville-based hot dog and hamburger restaurant, for the past four years. She says when the pandemic hit, there was a lot of panic.

“We had to take a step back and remember we’ve been in the community a long time,” Clayton says. “We have support.”

Mama Possum’s has been serving customers since 1963. It was because of them, they were able to stay afloat in trying times.

Whether it’s money lost or staffing shortages, many continue facing challenges. It’s why Southside’s Task Force is stepping in.

“We wanted to understand better how they’ve overcome those challenges and what things they are putting in place today to serve their customers,” Project Manager Kelvin Perry says.

Perry works in economic development in Danville. His team put together an 18-question survey for restaurant owners. Eateries are encouraged to answer online questions posed by the SoVa Task Force, an organization formed last year to help share resources in an effort to benefit businesses across Southside. It asks how they coped with fallouts and closures from the pandemic, as well as what they still need help with.

“What are some things that we can do to help them so that they can continue their operations?” Perry says.

The survey isn’t limited to establishments in just Danville and Pittsylvania County. Restaurants in Martinsville and the counties of Halifax, Henry and Patrick are welcome to answer the online questions.

There are many programs to assist restaurant owners, which is top of mind as COVID-19 cases start to climb again. Although thoughts of another possible lockdown are worrisome, those in the business remember what they’ve learned from their trials.

“We survived it once and we would survive it again,” Clayton says.

The survey is open to all restaurants in Southside until Sept. 3 and responses are anonymous.

Click here to access the survey.

About the Author:

Kortney joined the 10 News team as a Lynchburg Bureau Reporter in May 2021.