Arlington, VA

After some setbacks, including minor delays caused by the pandemic, Bob and Edith’s Diner owner Greg Bolton said he’s planning to open his new Lee Highway location (5050 Lee Highway) at the beginning of next month.

Bolton says the pandemic delayed the diner’s opening by, at most, a few days. If everything goes smoothly over the next few weeks, he said, the new location should be open on August 1. The diner will replaces what was once Lee Highway restaurant Linda’s Cafe.

COVID-19 has still impacted the diner — with locations on Columbia Pike and 23rd Street S. in Crystal City, as well as in Huntington and Springfield —  in other ways. Bob and Edith’s has had to reduce its reliance on in-person dining and boost its pick up and delivery business.

“When coronavirus hit, Bob & Edith’s made a quick and crucial pivot to implement new technology, update packaging to better accommodate pickup and delivery, create a digital-friendly menu and utilize third-party delivery apps,” a PR rep said. “Bob & Edith’s created their own personalized app through ChowNow, an online food ordering service that allows the diner to keep menu prices the same as dine-in prices and keep 100% of the proceeds.”

“Today, they are operating at 50% dine-in sales and 50% off-premise sales, a true transformation compared to just one year ago,” the rep said.

Bolton said the diners have had to adapt to required distances between staff and customers — not easy for small spaces.

“Because of social distancing, we can’t use the counter,” Bolton noted. Despite that, Bolton says in-house dining has been growing every day.

“Everything has changed,” Bolton said. “Hopefully it goes back to somewhat normal. Everyone will move forward and we’ll do whatever we have to. But it may never go back to the same. We may have to keep six feet apart. Things have changed, it’s going to be harder to run a business.”

Coronavirus hasn’t been the only challenge for the diner in recent months. Bolton said the heatwave has stunted what had been burgeoning outdoor dining demand. Diner food and hot weather “don’t really mix,”  he said, but the restaurant chain is hoping to keep a long-term focus on outdoor dining even after the pandemic recedes.

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