Boarded up due to damage sustained amid the recent protests, Richmond’s Quirk Hotel has pushed back a scheduled reopening but plans to stick to its new date, boarded windows and all.
The downtown hotel at Broad and Jefferson streets is scheduled to reopen next Friday, June 19, following the lead of its sister location, Quirk Hotel Charlottesville, which reopened June 1 after a coronavirus-related closure.
The homegrown hotel brand had planned to reopen the Richmond Quirk this Friday, but pushed the date back a week due to the circumstances surrounding the recent protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Quirk’s Richmond property was among those vandalized and damaged along Broad Street during the early days of the protests.
Three of its massive lobby windows were lost due to damage, and its Broad Street entrance door also was damaged, owner Ted Ukrop said. Plywood now covers much of the building’s street-level frontage, and likely will remain in place when the hotel reopens, Ukrop said.
“It’s going to take at least four weeks to get the glass measured. They’re not your ordinary windows,” he said. “They’re pretty large, so when we open, we will have some boards up.”
Despite that damage, Ukrop said the hotel’s interior remained untouched.
“We were very fortunate that no looting or damage was done to the interior,” he said.
The Richmond Quirk will follow the same protocols as its Charlottesville counterpart, which reopened last week after having to close two weeks after its grand opening in March due to the pandemic.
Matthew Brink, general manager of the Charlottesville location, said the protocols were developed with guidance from Hyatt affiliate Destination Hotels, which manages both Quirk properties.
Procedures there include sanitizing public spaces every hour on the hour, public restrooms and elevators every half-hour, and back-of-house spaces every two hours, Brink said. All employees wear masks, and glass shields have been placed in front of the cash-handling areas for the hotel’s café and front desk.
Credit cards and cash are handled with plastic gloves, as is food service for the hotel’s rooftop restaurant. Instead of disposable menus, restaurant staff present QR codes that allow guests to pull up an app on the phones for paperless and touchless menu viewing.
Tables and chairs are positioned 10 to 12 feet apart, about twice the recommended six-foot social-distancing guideline. All of the rooftop tables are sanitized before and after service. The indoor restaurant has yet to reopen, giving the hotel time to rehire cooking staff who were furloughed. Barstools are being introduced cautiously, Brink said. To-go service and outdoor dining also is provided.
While bookings are low – Brink said the Charlottesville Quirk was at 20 percent capacity over the weekend – guest rooms are being booked at least two rooms apart. In-room housecleaning is provided only by request, with housekeepers changing protective gear after each cleaning. Elevator landings are equipped with tissue boxes so guests can use tissues to cover buttons.
The hotel has a doorman so guests don’t have to touch doors, and Brink said they’re ordering a pneumatic ionized fogger to periodically clean the hotel’s interior. He said the hotel is offering emotional coaching for staff who may be nervous about coming back to work, adding that they’re trying to keep the mood light with a bell that signals back-of-house cleaning times.
“We’re attempting to have as much joy and fun with it as we can, but taking it very serious, because guests and associates are a little nervous right now,” Brink said. “These days are very precarious.
“Knowing that a lot of hotels didn’t open, we’re very cautious with how fragile the environment is, making sure we’re super-clean and super-welcoming and explaining in great detail what we’re doing,” he said.
‘It’s been a big impact’
Brink said Charlottesville’s reopening date was set by Ukrop and wasn’t factored by the state’s phased reopening plan. While many hotels have temporarily closed since March, others have remained open throughout the pandemic.
Ukrop, who co-owns the Quirks with his wife Katie, acknowledged the financial impact of the hotels’ closures, occurring in the heart of their peak booking season. They’ve continued on by applying for federal Payroll Protection Program loans for both properties, and reaching out to their investors for additional capital.
“Obviously it hasn’t been good, especially since April and May are usually our best two months of the year, so it’s been a big impact,” Ukrop said. “We’re hanging in there, and we’re ready to get all this behind us.”
While the Richmond Quirk prepares to reopen, its downtown hotel neighbors that likewise shut their doors are taking different tacks.
The nearby Jefferson Hotel remains closed but is accepting reservations for July 1 on, according to its website. Linden Row Inn remains closed, having shut its doors in early April. The Graduate Richmond hotel has set a July 1 reopening date.
Protesting is an inalienable right, recognized by the Constitution. RIOTING is a crime. Referring to rioters as protesters infers their actions aren’t criminal when, in fact, they are.
Identifying RIOTERS as ‘protesters’ severely misleads the public, yet many media representatives – in writing, on the Internet and on television – are calling last week’s RIOTERS, ‘protesters.’
To law-abiding Americans — particularly business owners — there’s a BIG difference.