Downtown restaurants embrace takout, delivery

Pronto, Blue Sky and Pure Eats have removed indoor seating

Garrett Price

Dining in Lexington looks different this winter, as business owners grapple with what is best for their customers and business.

Usually, Pronto is full of people working, drinking coffee, or eating pastries in the restaurant’s attractive interior. Such an environment, at this moment, is unsafe.

Franky Benincasa, co-owner of Pronto and gelato maker, said that Pronto closed for two weeks over the holiday break to evaluate how the business should respond to the conditions. 

In the fall, Pronto offered limited seating, but they reopened with no in-person seating available in the winter. 

All employees are required to wear KN95 masks to protect customers when they stop by to pick up orders. Customers can also order online or over the phone and have their orders brought to them outside.

Pronto also changed their hours because of the pandemic. They are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Blue Sky, a popular lunch spot for students and locals, has also restricted in person dining for the foreseeable future. 

“I need to make a safe place for my employees and customers,” said Beverly Drake, owner of Blue Sky.

Drake believes that staying true to this mission, unfortunately, means moving business to curbside pickup only. 

Customers are able to pay over the phone or order and have their order brought to them outside. 

In the face of the many constraints on business and interaction caused by the pandemic, Blue Sky has added delivery as a new medium to reach the community in a safe way. Customers can place delivery orders over the phone or through email.

Drake says that delivery has been successful and that Blue Sky will continue to deliver even when conditions return to normal. 

Blue Sky is not the only business in Lexington that is adopting delivery. 

Pure Eats, having always offered deliveries for special events and holidays, recently began delivering daily to customers around town. 

Phillipe Lavergne, who works at Pure Eats, says that they deliver 6-12 orders every day. 

Pure Eats delivers frequently to the VMI Rats, who are not always allowed to leave campus, as well as to fraternities and sororities at W&L. 

In addition, VMI cadets who are staying in hotels around town due to positive Covid-19 tests, are still able to enjoy Pure Eats treats thanks to the delivery service. 

Knowing that students from both institutions are loyal customers at Pure Eats has been helpful, Lavergne said. 

 “Thanks to VMI and students talking to each other, we will do more [deliveries] in the near future,” Lavergne said. 

Though Pure Eats currently offers limited seating, delivery has helped the business tremendously and has become a new way for them to reach the community. 

Being able to both serve existing customers as well as attract new ones in a difficult time, Pure Eats will continue delivery even after the pandemic. 

Businesses across Lexington are looking forward to being a hotspot for dining and socializing once again, but for now, they are willing to do what is best for the health of the community.