VARINA, Va. -- Ronnie Logan is the heart, soul, and smile behind Ronnie's BBQ in Varina. When coronavirus safety precautions began closing down restaurants in Virginia, Ronnie's was among those that closed. But, we are now happy to report that Ronnie's is back open!
Below is a lightly-edited conversation Ronnie Logan had with Eat It, Virginia co-host Scott Wise as part of the CBS 6 We're Open campaign.
When the virus first started coming into Virginia and restaurants were asked to take precautions, you guys made the immediate decision to shut down for a bit. Why?
We had to figure out how to do this thing right? When they first started, all the guidelines weren't out, you know, like social distancing. And the way our place was set up, it's not like a lot of places in the city.
We're in the country, we don't really have curbs.
So we, looked at it for a few weeks and then and came up with a way to do it. We tried it out last weekend and it works.
For us it's a lot more walking. We got such a large parking lot, you know, our parking lot probably 400 or 500 feet long and the cars line up. That's the hardest thing, especially for me. I'm an older fella and the walking is a little hard but, but the family the younger family members, they take up slack.
Tell me about the set up. If someone wants Ronnie's BBQ, what do they have to do?
You come in off the Route 5 side and you pull up to the front door where I got a tent right at the front door.
If you ordered online, all you got to do is give your name and your go-to order number. You just give it to us and we bring the food out to you and set it in the passenger side of the car. And then bam, you're on your way.
Some people do walk up.
Did you have online ordering before this?
Not really. We had Grubhub, but we didn't have the online ordering.
What was the response when you guys reopened?
Very good. We've had a lot of a lot of people coming through. It wasn't like a usual day, because it was reduced hours. It was just like seven hours instead of 10. We averaged 50 to 60 tickets in that time.
What were you doing on the on the weeks when you were not open?
Splitting firewood. Cleaning the rig up.
I'm not going to call you an old timer, I would not do that to you. But I know you've seen a lot in your in your life. How would you describe what's going on right now?
It's somewhat, a little scary to some people.
To a lot of younger people. It's something new, you know.
When I was a kid, they didn't have the vaccination for polio. I remember in elementary school we would line up and they would give us the polio vaccine on sugar cubes. I remember that, you know. It'll take time, but they'll find a vaccine for this and get it back under control.
But we as humans, we got to protect the planet, man. Sometimes I think we're kind of irresponsible. You know God gave us something to do here and gave us this beautiful place to live and we have to start taking care of it.
Was part of your decision to come back to reopen the restaurant to make sure that you had something for the family?
Part of it. And this community has been so good to us. And the people, It was almost to me like an obligation to open back up for my customers, you know, because down here it's almost like a food desert in this area.
This is a bedroom community. We're not near the malls and things like that. Not a whole lot of fast food. This end of the county is real rural. When we opened back up, the people are so good about coming by and supporting us. I just kind of had a feeling that I need to be here for them.
I'm pretty sure people get tired of cooking at the house. They need to get out or, you know, go stir crazy. You need a change of scenery.
So let's talk about your food. Are you doing a regular menu?
It's based on the regular menu, but we're not cooking as much until we get a feel for this thing. We sold out this week, so we bought a little more and we'll see how that does.
One of the things I don't want to happen is to have a bunch of food here, and maybe they may shut everything down. We don't want to be left with a bunch of food in the refrigerator or freezer that we might lose, especially things like fresh greens and some of these other things that we have on hand here.
So we kind of kind of gauge what we might sell for those three days. We don't mind if we run out because we're cooking exact same amount each of those three days until we sell out.
Did you guys do mac and cheese on Sunday?
Yep, yep, we're still doing that (laughs)
Thank God for that.
Do you have a message for your for your community ?
I really do. I want to tell them thank you for the support and I love them.
We're going to get through this and those praying people out there, pray for comfort and healing.
A lot of families have lost some loved ones, pray for them. Pray for their comfort.
Pray for the healing of the community and for this thing to be over.
And pray for our leaders, really pray for our leaders that they make wise and just decisions.
Prayer changes things.
Thank you for your time, sir. Take care of that beautiful family of yours, okay?
Okay, partner. Nice seeing you again.
Ronnie's BBQ is located at 2097 New Market Road in Henrico.
It is open Friday - Sunday* from noon until 7 p.m. (or sold out).
Order online or call 804-507-1917.
*Mac and Cheese is only available Sunday.
On the farm with Libby Lewis