Syd Mace and “Miss Piggy”

The closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic have been hard on many organizations including the Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern in Heathsville. It has had to close its gift shop and restaurant, cancel major fundraising events and two farmers’ markets so far but “we get the same bills,” Executive Director Corinne Becker said Sunday.

Fortunately, good friends of the Tavern have stepped up.

“We put out the word to the faithful,” Becker said and they have donated more than $8000 to help keep the operation afloat. Plus, the the Tavern has re-thought its spring barbecue. It won’t be able to have the major lawn party the event usually is but the Tavern will still be serving barbecue dinners May 23.

Becker said master barbecue chef Syd Mace will be cooking his barbecue. It will be served with baked beans and Syd’s special sauce, The Tavern cafe’s volunteers will prepare potato salad and cole slaw to go along with the barbecue and volunteers will take the orders out to the customers. (Go to the Tavern’s website to place meal orders: )

While take out barbecue will be a change, “we don’t have to worry about the weather,” Becker noted.

Although the Tavern’s guilds and work groups have not been able to meet, their members and others such as the Cobbs Hall DAR chapter have kept busy helping with the epidemic, Becker said. They have been making protective masks which have been donated to Three Rivers Health District. So far, 237 masks have been provided.

Becker said that with first phase of re-opening the state going into effect, the Tavern hopes to re-open its gift shop and cafe on May 28. That date is, however, tentative and will depends on what the Governor Ralph Northam directs.

Becker is also hopeful that the Tavern can have a farmers’ market the third Saturday in June. What that would be like is unknown at this point. Under current guidelines vendors could only sell goods and cleaning products, Becker noted.