Loudoun restaurants scramble to add outdoor seating

From tents to new patios, anything goes in the race to bring back customers.

More and more restaurants — struggling to stay afloat under restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic — are creating new and unique ways to add outdoor seating to their establishments.

One of the trends that seems to be building steam is placing tents outside in the parking lot to offer additional outdoor seating. The Leesburg Public House in Leesburg has done this (image at top), and tents are popping up around Northern Virginia. We’ve heard of several Ashburn restaurants considering installing tents.

A tent at an All American Steakhouse location elsewhere in Northern Virginia.

Some restaurants that don’t currently have outdoor patios are rushing to build them. We’ve been told that the Blue Ridge Grill location in Ashburn Village plans to remove its landscaping and pour a new patio in the next few weeks. The team at The Ashburn Pub — also in Ashburn Village — put down mulch and created a “beer garden” of sorts out behind their location.

The new “beer garden” outdoor seating area at The Ashburn Pub.

The move comes as Northern Virginia counties — including Loudoun — are told they will stay under the Phase One restrictions longer than most of the rest of the state. Virginia Gov. Northam made the decision based on the coronavirus trends in the region. Under Phase One, restaurants and bars can only offer seating outdoors for dining onsite, and only at 50 percent their usual outdoor capacity.

As we reported this past weekend, the Parallel Wine & Whiskey Bar in Ashburn has leased the space next door and will open a second bar and restaurant there later this summer. In the meanwhile, they now have two large patios to work with instead of one, giving them one of the largest outdoor seating capacities in the area.

The patio at Parallel Wine & Whiskey Bar in Ashburn.

The Burn is also hearing from local business owners and landlords that this trend towards outdoor seating may endure even once the official restrictions are relaxed and more indoor dining rooms open. Some local restauranteurs believe that a portion of the local customer base will remain uncomfortable with the idea of dining indoors for the foreseeable future and will prefer outdoor dining options.

A new Facebook group dedicated to Outdoor Dining in Loudoun County was created on Tuesday and quickly had more than 1,000 members in the first 24 hours. So it looks like — in these uncertain times — new patios, pop-up tents and sidewalk tables may be with us for awhile.

(Image at top: Leesburg Public House)

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