Scott Beveridge/Observer-Reporter

Mike and Lori Coury discuss with state secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development Dennis Davin, center, how their Charleroi restaurant weathered the pandemic.

CHARLEROI – Mike Coury said April saw brisk business at his Charleroi restaurant as COVID-19 mitigation efforts were being eased and after he struggled through the pandemic.

“It’s going to take time,” the owner of River House Cafe said Wednesday when local and state officials celebrated a return to normal business at his eatery.

“It’s like starting a new business again,” Coury added.

Dennis Davin, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, visited his restaurant Wednesday to mark restaurant relief grant programs.

Davin said the money awarded to bars and restaurant was critical in efforts to keep them in business.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Davin said at the event hosted by Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

Washington County received a $1.9 million share of $145 million the state made available under the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program, said Diana Irey Vaughan, chairwoman of county commissioners.

She said all but $300,000 of the county’s share has been awarded much to the credit of the chamber and Mon Valley Alliance, both of which administered the program locally.

The average grant was $22,368 in the county, with 84 of the 101 applicants being approved for the money, she said.

Those who spoke also celebrated a strong vaccination program in the county that has helped to allow fully-vaccinated people to go maskless.

“It’s a new day,” said county Commissioner Larry Maggi, who participated in a vaccine clinical trial. “We’re ready to get on with life.”

Staff Writer

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley.

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