The Virginia Tourism Corp. has declared this week ”Virginia is for Restaurant Lovers Takeout Week” in an effort to encourage the support of local restaurants in the state.

“We hope that by participating in Virginia is for Restaurant Lovers Takeout Week, Virginians will be reminded about the fantastic food options right in our backyard and how important they are to localities and their citizens especially during this time,” wrote Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corp., in a statement.

On March 23, Gov. Ralph Northam ordered Virginia restaurants to close their dining rooms and restrict their service to takeout or delivery in an effort to ensure social distancing and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Many restaurants in Virginia had already shuttered their dining rooms, but the order closed the rest. The restaurant industry has been dramatically impacted by the social distancing mandated to combat the virus.

The U.S. restaurant industry has lost an estimated $25 billion in sales and more than 3 million jobs in March, according to data released last week by the National Restaurant Association.

Full-service restaurants — that is, restaurants where a server takes an order and brings the food to the table, as opposed to fast-food or fast-casual — have been especially hard hit.

Many are offering takeout and delivery, though those services bring in only fraction of the money and employ a fraction of the staff.

The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association is coordinating “Virginia is for Restaurant Lovers Takeout Week” in partnership with the Virginia Tourism Corp.

There were just over 1,000 full-service restaurants in Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico counties and the city of Richmond as of June 2019, according to the health departments in each locality.

Many will never recover. Tom Colicchio, the “Top Chef” head judge, restaurateur and activist, told The Washington Post recently that he expects 75% or more of restaurants across the country will go under.

“Virginia’s restaurant industry has been hit especially hard during this time,” wrote Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association, in a statement. “Restaurants are so vital to our economy, and we encourage those who can afford to do so, to continue to help out these establishments that have helped to put Virginia on the map.”

Participation in “Virginia is for Restaurant Lovers Takeout Week” is simple: Virginians who can are encouraged to order takeout or delivery from any local restaurant of their choice — and to use the hashtag #VirginiaEatsLocal if they post about their dining experience on social media.

Virginia Tourism is also selling “Virginia is for Restaurant Lovers” T-shirts, “with a portion of the proceeds donated to local relief efforts for food service workers in crisis,” according to a release.

T-shirts can be purchased at thevastore.com.

Visit Richmond.com for a list of local restaurants in the Richmond area that are offering takeout or delivery.

kpeifer@richmond.com

(804) 649-6321

Twitter: @KarriPeifer

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