Local Restaurant Defies Covid Guidelines

Local Restaurant Defies Covid Guidelines

Local Spotsylvania County Restaurant “Gourmeltz” has been trending on social media for refusing to follow COVID-19 safety mandates. The Spotsylvania restaurant has since had its food service permit suspended because the owner, Matt Strickland, has not complied with the governor’s orders regarding the pandemic. 

The business has since refused to close and has been recently booming with customers. Strickland posted a five-minute YouTube video on Jan 29. It has since reached over 10,000 views. 

Strickland stated in the video that health inspectors from Spotsylvania County came to his store and told him he was not allowed to have customers sitting at the bar because, “when the customers take off their mask they interact with the bartenders.”  

Strickland asked health inspectors, “What is the difference of that and when a customer sits at a regular table, takes a mask off and interacts with the waiter or waitress?” He stated that the two health inspectors could not give him an answer to his question. 

Strickland is from Woodbridge. He grew up in the same neighborhood as his wife. He enlisted in the army when he was 17, and he spent less than five years in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

In 2010, Matt went to University of Mary Washington and finished his business administration degree. He started a food truck business, and he sold all of his food trucks in 2018. He has been a Veteran & Wounded Warrior local business owner ever since. 

Strickland works with his wife, Maria, running the restaurant. In a 2018 Free Lance Star article, he described the way he got the idea for his business. 

“I wanted a food that I could create something different with that would bring back childhood memories,” Strickland said.

On Feb. 20, during a Saturday afternoon interview with the owner’s wife at Gourmeltz, the business was booming with customers. 

“The video really helped the business and has had a lot more customers since,” Maria said. 

As we talked, the restaurant was constantly being cleaned, and employees were polite and friendly, considering the difficulties of Covid. 

The restaurant was filled with 90s memorabilia and decals that fit the restaurant description. 

A popular complaint on many review websites is that there is no social distancing or mask regulations. This is Strickland decision. He states in his YouTube video that he does not support the restrictions of mask wearing and socially distancing, and he lets his customers make their own decisions. 

In March of 2020, the restaurant was forced to close its doors in compliance with government regulations. It remained closed through June 2020.

Strickland wanted to open the business once again. 

“What has resulted since the government allowed for the slow reopening of restaurants and bars? Restaurants are jumping through higher hoops to remain open,” his Gourmeltz website states. “Enduring more rules. More restrictions. More regulations, mandates, and curfews. The restaurant -industry faced a roller coaster of orders, including reduced occupancy levels, a 10 p.m. alcohol cutoff, a ban on bar seating, and social distancing.” 

Strickland has been fighting against the regulations, and he has asked people to stand by him and support him. He has since started a fundraiser for his business, and it has since gathered 107 supporters and raised over $8,500. 

Since WHEN, the business has been open and plans to stay open, refusing the state’s restrictions.