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The first COVID-19 weekend in Farmville

The first weekend in the age of the coronavirus featured notable changes to life in Farmville — some minor and some major. This was revealed through a tour of popular spots in town March 14-16.

As the beach tunes of The Embers and the hum of patron activity emanated from inside the North Street Press Club (NSPC) Saturday night, March 14, it was clear the relatively new hot spot in Farmville seemed to be the least affected by COVID-19 and the concerns surrounding it. But the establishment was not without some effects of the discouragement of social activities.

“It’s definitely lighter than our average Saturday night, and given it’s “The Embers,” it should be a humongous night, but we’re still way busier than everywhere else in town right now,” NSPC Co-Owner Jake Romaine said.

Romaine said given the Press Club’s proximity to Longwood, the university’s plans definitely affect the establishment.

“But we have enough local business that’s built in that it’s not going to really seriously impact us in the long term,” he said.

The situation was different for other establishments in town.

Three Roads Brewing Company (TRBC), which is located right below prominent Longwood student housing, was mostly vacant during the eight o’clock hour Saturday night. A talented guitar player performed to a largely empty room, a situation that TRBC General Manager Molly Fusco said she had never seen before there.

“We were fine yesterday,” she said. “But I do think a lot of students have left town too. So I don’t think it’s just the coronavirus. I think it’s, too, since they’re not in school, they’ve all kind of left town as well.”

Macado’s Assistant Manager Drew Bentley said Saturday night that things were a lot slower than he expected, though there were customers on hand.

“When Longwood first said they weren’t having in-person classes, I think we got busier,” he said, referring to the university announcement that came Wednesday, March 11. “And then it seemed like after that it has continued to progress a little worse, everybody started to kind of move on out of town.”

He noted typically there would be no way he would be able to grant an interview request on a Saturday night because he would be stuck in the kitchen. Instead, he was immediately available.

“This is different for our Saturday night in March,” he said.

Longwood’s plans have a distinct impact on Macado’s as well.

“A lot of my employees are Longwood students, and some of them are working their last couple shifts this week and then going home,” he said.

The Fishin’ Pig had a noticeable drop in its usual Saturday night patronage, which typically involved a significant waiting list, but not this time.

“We’re hanging in there,” The Fishin’ Pig Owner Matt Hurley said. “Sure, it’s definitely down.”

A manager on duty at Charley’s Waterfront Cafe said Saturday that business over the weekend was a little bit down but not too bad.

On Monday night, March 16, Main St. Lanes was bubbling with activity on a typical league night.

“This is actually lighter than our normal Monday,” Main St. Lanes Manager Wendy Boettcher said. “We’re usually heavier. We do have some people that are going to bowl tomorrow — when we’re less busy — for tonight’s league.”

However, on Tuesday, March 17, she said bowling action would be shut down for the time being due to increased statewide restrictions on public gatherings.