The Homeplace Restaurant, a family-style dining icon for 38 years in Catawba, is closing until at least 2021, according to a post on the eatery’s Facebook page. COVID-19 is the reason.
Sunday will be its final day of inside dining and carryout.
The Homeplace, founded in 1982 in an early 20th century farmhouse off Virginia 311, had been selling carryout meals during the pandemic. It opened for indoor dining Sept. 24, under coronavirus restrictions that kept it at 50% capacity.
In a late Monday social media post, restaurant management thanked customers for their support.
“We know how Covid has affected all businesses, and we sadly have been hit hard,” the Facebook post read. “We enjoyed being able to offer carryout over the summer and had high hopes of trying to get our feet back on the ground by opening for inside dining with social distancing along with the takeout option still in place.”
It was unclear when The Homeplace might reopen.
“We pray for better days and hope 2021 will shine for all,” the post read.
Among about 800 replies to that post were many that implored the business to start a GoFundMe.com page, citing such examples as Mac & Bob’s Restaurant in Salem and Floyd Country Store in Floyd.
One such page was already online by Tuesday afternoon.
“We have had several folks ask us about [GoFundMe] pages, which is such a kind and thoughtful gesture,” a subsequent Facebook post read. “We haven’t authorized any of those at this time but will keep our page updated. Again, our hearts [are] warmed by so much love.”
Attempts to reach general manager Kevin Wingate were unsuccessful Tuesday afternoon.
Wingate’s father, Harold Wingate, founded the restaurant, betting that people would drive long distances for home-cooked meals like the ones he grew up with in his native Grayson County. The all-you-can-eat servings of meats, vegetables and biscuits, not to mention iced tea, were a house-filler.
Outside, a big porch, lined with rocking chairs, was useful while waiting for seats, and later, while recuperating with full bellies. Pastoral views of the countryside near McAfee Knob were a bonus.
The Homeplace has been a popular stop for hikers, as well.
At least four generations of Mary Wingfield’s family are among those who traveled there for family meals and landmark celebrations. Wingfield, 52, of Nelson County, said her parents first brought her to The Homeplace Restaurant from their home, in Forest. She would go on to take her son there. These days, he and his children make the trip from Lynchburg, she said. In 2012, Wingfield took her mother there, for a last meal before an open heart surgery. Faye Evers would not survive the surgery, but “she was so happy” to have dined there one last time.
Wingfield, despite multiple moves to other parts of the state, continues to visit the restaurant. She was married there in 2015, in the lobby on a cold Valentine’s Day Saturday. She drove three hours from Louisa that day, and family members enjoyed the famous food in a first-floor reception.
“It’s just been a main meeting spot for us for many, many years,” Wingfield said. “It’s just a big shock and big devastation to all of us.”
She planned to make the drive again Thursday, when The Homeplace opens for its final 2020 weekend.
“I’ve got to see it one last time,” she said.
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