Scott Shaw says it will be two years before Alexandria Restaurant Partners gets to its pre-COVID financial situation.
“This year we’re down 50% in sales, and if the first half of next year has a slow recovery, then next year might be down 25%, and then we get back to normal in 2022,” Shaw, a partner with ARP told ALXnow. “Right now we’re worried about the winter and what happens when nobody wants to sit outside and we have to survive on to-go orders, which a lot of restaurants can’t do.”
ARP owns Mia’s Italian Kitchen, Vola’s Dockside Grill, Theismann’s Restaurant and Bar, Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap, Palette 22 in Shirlington and The Majestic, the latter of which is the only restaurant to not reopen. The company is also planning to open two large waterfront restaurants next year in Robinson Landing, and ALXnow will be covering that story in the days ahead.
After receiving emergency government loan funds, the company has hired back about 60% of its staff and Shaw says that takeout orders are making up between a third and a half of all business at its multiple locations.
“Takeout and delivery used to be a small percentage, maybe 5% of the business,” he said. “This crisis is just accelerating trends that already existed. So, if you didn’t have an e-commerce element to your business you got the wake-up call in a hurry.”
Shaw said that a few things helped save the summer, like the Virginia ABC approving the selling of to-go alcoholic beverages from restaurants and the sectioning off of lower King Street from car traffic.
Shaw also said that ARP is now exploring taking the place of the World Central Kitchen in its monthly food distributions across the city.
“We’ve cooked with World Central Kitchen probably 30 times in the last five months, and thousands of meals that are being distributed here in Alexandria, and now we want to be part of the solution to solve insecurity in this town,” Shaw said. “Our team’s excited about that. That’s something we want to figure out.”
Staff photo by James Cullum