Arlington, VA

In better times, Galaxy Hut’s main room at 2711 Wilson Blvd would be filled with busy chatter, patrons playing arcade games, and the TV playing a worn out VHS copy of Excalibur (1981).

For the last year, that room has been an empty stretch for staff to cross as they carry food from the kitchen to the barricaded front door, where they drop off food for customers. Even as other Clarendon spots draw customers for indoor dining and drinking, Galaxy Hut’s owner said the restaurant will remain takeout only until their staff is vaccinated, no matter the cost.

“As a bar, gathering place, and live music venue, choosing to be pickup only has been devastating for our sales,” proprietors Lary and Erica, who also own Spacebar in Falls Church, said in an email. “Both of our restaurants occupy small spaces, so we don’t have as many options available to us as restaurants with more indoor square footage and larger outdoor seating areas do. That said, there is more that we are allowed to do under current restrictions, but we have made a choice not to. We continue to make that choice, despite financial harm, until food service workers can be vaccinated.”

While neighboring Alexandria has been able to move food service workers into the current phase of vaccination, in Arlington they’re still listed in the pre-registration phase, as is the case elsewhere in Virginia.

Lary and Erica said holding off until staff is vaccinated is as much for the safety of customers as for staff. Once employees are vaccinated, they said the restaurant will begin a gradual reopening.

“We determined early on in the pandemic that due to the size of our restaurants, it would not be safe for customers or staff to be in the same space without masks on,” Lary and Erica said. “We decided to remain pickup only until we can get ourselves and our staff vaccinated. Arlington is currently vaccinating group 1b. Food service workers have been placed in group 1c. Once we are all vaccinated we will begin a phased opening plan.”

In the meantime, Galaxy Hut’s menu is almost entirely vegan, with dairy-options offered as alternatives on some dishes. As a new Ethiopian restaurant on Columbia Pike recently discovered, Lary and Erica said there’s been some community excitement for having those options available.

“We’ve thankfully had a lot of support and positive feedback from the community,” the pair said. “We now have a set of new pandemic regulars in addition to our pre-pandemic regulars who continue to support both of our restaurants with food orders and merch purchases. There’s a lot more excitement and support for vegetarian and vegan food now than there was back in 2013 when we first tried an all-veg menu, so that’s been great to see.”

Galaxy Hut is open for takeout orders from 4 p.m.-7:45 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 4 p.m.-8:45 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

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