Well, it depends on the restaurant.
Starbucks added a shot of news this past September when the coffee chain announced it prefers customers not enter its stores while armed. However, the policy was more symbolic than tactical, as no Starbucks employee will ask armed customers to leave or refuse to serve them.
That announcement got us thinking: do any Richmond restaurants enforce their own gun policies?
But first some background: in Virginia, those with openly displayed firearms are allowed to enter ABC-licensed restaurants. In 2010, it became legal for patrons with concealed carry permits to bring concealed weapons into ABC-licensed restaurants, so long as they don’t drink alcohol.1
That’s not acceptable for Poe’s Pub, located near Libby Hill Park.
“We just don’t take kindly to it in general,” said bartender Dani Mowbray about customers bearing arms. “We don’t turn people away because of it, but we don’t accept it very wildly.” She said the reason is because of the bar’s proximity to Shockoe and the risk of related violence.
Mowbray said that customers understand that Poe’s is a no-gun pub. “It’s not going to work out here, and they just don’t do it.”
In Shockoe Slip, Tio Pablo has a more lax approach.
“One or two regulars have firearms permits,” said Zach Hodges, one of the restaurant’s managers. “When they first came in, we asked to see their permits.” After verifying patrons are permitted to carry guns, Hodges said the restaurant has no issues with them dining while armed.
Over at Tobacco Company a representative said that restaurant has no specific gun policy beyond state law. The same goes for 525 at the Berry Burk, located across the street from The Carpenter Theatre.
“It’s not something that’s really come up here,” said Thomas Haas, co-owner of the 150-seat restaurant. As with most other restaurant owners, Haas doesn’t know how many concealed weapons are in the restaurant at a given time. “There’s no way I’d actually know unless [the weapons] became unconcealed.”
The Village Cafe doesn’t have a specific gun policy, according to daytime manager Ray Ralph. He said armed police officers and security guards frequent the Fan staple, which is OK with the restaurant. However, he said Village employees have asked suspicious gun-holders to leave the restaurant before, and would do so again.
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- A Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. ↩
photo by Kelly