'OPEN FOR TAKEOUT': With Austin's restaurants in survival mode, one local sign shop is helping get out the message

Image description
"Jimbo" prepares another roll of the banners. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
At Rocket Banners on Ben White Boulevard, "open for take out" signs are available for restaurant owners to pick up. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
"Jimbo" prepares another roll of the banners. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
La Cocina de Consuelo, the small, local Mexican and breakfast burrito shop on Burnet Road, has one. They can be seen hanging outside popular downtown haunts, from Better Half Coffee & Cocktails to Star Bar. Even some restaurants in Lakeway have them.

Efforts to curb the coronavirus have forced restaurants and bars into a takeout and delivery model in order to earn income. To let would-be customers know, hundreds of local restaurants in Austin and beyond have prominently posted the same 2-by-3-foot, white, vinyl-like banner outside their establishment.

“Open for take out,” the signs say in red font with blue shadow across four lines. All of them have come from the same small, South Austin sign shop. All of them have been provided for free.

So far, David Zuefeldt said he and his small team at Rocket Banners have made roughly 750 of the posters. After the cancellation of South By Southwest Conference & Festivals in early March, Zuefeldts’s shop was left with a stockpile of unused sign materials. One of the shop’s designers, Evan Farias, said he drew up the design after messing around with some new fonts the company was trying out for a rebrand. Rocket Banners, unsolicited, has been dropping the signs off to any and all restaurants throughout the city that need them.

“We’re just cranking them out; it’s easy for us,” Zuefeldt said. “As long as people need them, we’ll keep making them.”

Zuefeldt has been in the sign business in Austin for more than 20 years. Rocket Banners has been operating out of its 1701 W. Ben White Blvd. location—a repurposed indoor mall—since 2004.

Rocket Banners does signage for a range of industries, from construction sites to doctor’s offices, and is thus considered a supplier for essential businesses. Farias said the shop has kept busy, and the “Open For Take Out” signs, which started as a way to help small restaurants, have brought them new business, from larger chains such as Jason’s Deli and Thundercloud Subs.

“Some people need them,” Farias said. “Some people have never had to advertise or promote like this before, and now they have to.”

Though still in operation, Rocket Banners is also practicing social distancing. On the front door to the shop there is a sign about their popular signs: “Please drive around the mall, free banners at back entrance.” Around back is a stand with several rolled up banners, ready for free, contact-less pick-up, which Zuefeldt keeps available to anyone who needs them, throughout the day and night.
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Su


Travis County continues to urge residents to follow social distancing guidelines when out in public. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis County officials: 20 new coronavirus hospitalizations per day would strain local hospital capacity

Dr. Mark Escott said new admissions per day is a key measure to determine if the county should be more or less restrictive in its guidance to residents and businesses.

A May 27 preliminary budget discussion showed Central Health expects to see a slow-down in property tax revenue growth in fiscal year 2020-21. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Early budget forecasts from Central Health show anticipated 'slow-down' in tax revenue collection

Preliminary budget forecasts from Central Health show the health care district anticipates a slow down in tax revenue collection growth.

Brooke Elementary School is closing after the 2019-20 school year. (Photo by Jack Flagler, design by Shelby Savage/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pease, Brooke elementary school communities seek closure from a distance

Both schools will close permanently at the end of the school year. On May 28, Brooke and Pease held rolling parades to say goodbye.

Outdoor venues in all Texas counties will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity starting May 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spectators to be welcomed back to Texas outdoor sporting events May 31 at 25% of venue capacity

Venue owners must operate under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing.

Each eligible child will receive $285 in benefits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Some Texas students eligible for one-time federal benefit to aid with food purchases

Texas received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion in pandemic food benefits.

Zilker Theatre Productions announced May 28 that its summer musical, "Mamma Mia," has been postponed to 2021. (Courtesy Zilker Theatre Production)
Zilker Theatre Productions postpones summer musical to 2021

This will be the first time the free outdoor show in Zilker Park has not run since it began in 1959.

A screen shot of Dr. Mark Escott speaking
Austin Public Health planning response in case of coronavirus hospitalization spike

As local health authorities monitor an upward trend in COVID-19 cases, they are bracing for a possible uptick in hospitalizations.

There have been 1,084 total coronavirus recoveries in Travis County as of May 27. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis County reports 73 new coronavirus cases May 27

There have been 1,084 total coronavirus recoveries in Travis County as well.

East Austin bar La Holly opened a pop-up on West Sixth Street at Key Bar on May 22. (Courtesy Summer Madeline)
La Holly opens pop-up on West Sixth Street at Key Bar

East Austin bar La Holly opened a pop-up on West Sixth Street at Key Bar on May 22.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar spoke to members of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce on May 27 about what the state's post-pandemic economic turnaround might look like. (Screenshot of May 27 virtual luncheon)
Texas comptroller predicts slow, steady economic turnaround post-pandemic

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the state entered the era of the coronavirus in a healthy financial situation, which bodes well for the future as reopening continues, but that Texans are not out of the woods yet.

Traffic on toll roads operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has steadily climbed over the last two months after nosediving in March. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
As economic restrictions loosen, some Central Texas toll roads are beginning to fill up with traffic

Traffic counts on roads operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority have consistently climbed since early April.

Nursing facilities across Texas will be able to apply for federal funds to purchase devices to connect residents to friends and family. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces $3.6 million project to connect nursing home residents to families

Gov. Greg Abbott announced May 27 that $3.6 million will be provided to nursing facilities to purchase tablets, webcams and headphones to connect residents with family members.