Georgetown restaurants, businesses get creative to attract customers, prioritize safety

On March 14, Greenhouse Craft Food promoted a special offer. (Courtesy Greenhouse Craft Food)
On March 14, Greenhouse Craft Food promoted a special offer. (Courtesy Greenhouse Craft Food)

On March 14, Greenhouse Craft Food promoted a special offer. (Courtesy Greenhouse Craft Food)

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Greenhouse Craft Food, like many businesses, is sanitizing on the hour. (Sally Grace Holtgrieve/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Gumbo's North manager Jessica Guevara said she is worried for her servers after being forced to send them home due to a lack of business. The restaurant plans to keep the upstairs bar area open as of March 16. (Sally Grace Holtgrieve/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The usual lunch crowd is absent March 16 at Gumbo's North. The restaurant is offering free delivery. (Sally Grace Holtgrieve/Community Impact Newspaper)
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600 Degrees Market Place is offering curbside pick up and has added the option of delivery services GrubHub and UberEats. (Sally Grace Holtgrieve/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Mesquite Creek Outfitters Owner Cody Hirt plans make merchandise—along with beer and wine—available for delivery. (Sally Grace Holtgrieve/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Burger University owner Carmen May puts a salad together for a customer March 16 to avoid an unnecessary amount of people at the salad bar. (Sally Grace Holtgrieve/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Forest Homderding wipes down toys in an empty All Things Kids on March 16. (Sally Grace Holtgrieve/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Pink Poppy owner Kay Briggs said her business has taken up broadcasting items on Facebook Live to allow people to shop virtually. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Gus's Drug offers drive through and free delivery services. (Sally Grace Holtgrieve/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Spa Luxe owner Victoria Clark said even if customers do not want to enjoy a service at the moment, they can help support local businesses through purchasing gift cards to be used at a later time. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Versa Spa manager Katy Suriff said business hasn't decreased yet. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Klaudia Kincaid said clients have told her they are glad she has kept her business open. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Wolf Ranch Town Center offers sanitation stations. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
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A notice posted at the Sun City Activity Center. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
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St. John's United Methodist Church in Georgetown shares a message with the community. (Sally Grace Holtgrieve/Community Impact Newspaper)

Update - March 18

Williamson County has mandated that all dine-in areas close to the public.
Support local businesses by ordering takeout–use this list to check out your options:

Original post

Greenhouse Craft Food owner John Coronado set up a sign outside his restaurant March 14 that read: “Free roll toilet paper w/ brunch feature purchase.”

It was not a joke—he was giving away Angel Soft two-ply toilet paper with any brunch entree—but it made a lot of people smile in the midst of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Coronado said.

“People were taking photos and sharing on social media,” he said.

The added attention to the restaurant’s Facebook page was beneficial, Coronado said, as the restaurant launched grab-and-go options March 16, including a family four-pack special that consists of two-and-one quarter-pounds of ribs, two bowls of macaroni and cheese, one bowl of beans and slaw, barbecue sauce and four pieces of Texas toast for $40.

People began placing orders right after Coronado shared his plans online.

“Business overall has decreased though,” he said. “So we’re trying everything possible. We’re bleaching everything every hour, all the table tops, salt and pepper shakers ... and we’re keeping the doors open.”

He said he hopes people will see the effort the restaurant is putting in and trust them.

“Trust is hard to find right now,” he said.

Gumbo’s North on the Square in Georgetown

Mondays usually bring a lunch crowd, but Gumbo's was empty during the early afternoon on March 16, so manager Jessica Guevara had to send her employees home.

“I’m really worried about servers [regarding the coronavirus effects],” she said.

On March 14, Gumbo’s closed its dining room early due to inactivity but kept the upstairs bar area open. As the restaurant will be running on a skeleton crew going forward, this will likely be the new normal if business does not pick up, according to Guevara.

Gumbo’s is also offering to-go with free delivery.

600 Degrees Market Place

“Skeleton crew” is also the term Jerry Thompson, one of the 600 Degrees Market Place's owners, used to describe how the business would be operating moving forward.

The market and 600 Degrees Pizzeria experienced a major slowdown over the weekend, so about 60% of employees were temporarily let go March 16, Thompson said.

He said the employees were given advance notice that this would likely happen, and he hopes to get them back to work as soon as possible.

“But our employees will never go hungry,” he added. “They can always come here.”

The dining area of 600 Degrees Pizzeria temporarily closed until further notice March 16. Even though restaurants have not been required to shut down yet, Thompson said they want to reassess the situation and react appropriately, as well as maintain high standards.

It could be closed for two days or two weeks, but there is no way to know right now, he said.

The 600 Degrees Market Place remains open and constantly cleaned, and patrons are encouraged to utilize the new curbside pickup option. People can order and pay over the phone or online, and an employee with gloves on will take the order out to a person’s car.

In addition, locals can order menu items from GrubHub and UberEats, an option also added March 16.

Along with the six packs and wines available at the Market Place, guests can have growlers and crowlers filled with any of the 60 beer choices that were on draft in the dining area of the restaurant. These can also be delivered curbside.

“Our backup plan is to deliver orders ourselves and drop them off at doorsteps,” Thompson said of keeping the business afloat. “We’ll do whatever we have to.”

Mesquite Creek Outfitters

Delivery is Mesquite Creek Outfitters’ latest action plan. The venue will stay open unless mandated to close, but the business is also offering beer, wine and merchandise for remote ordering.

“Our employees will be the delivery guys,” owner Cody Hirt said. “We will post specials on Facebook every day.”

Like others, the store is taking extra cleaning measures. Staff are coming in early to clean the premises a second time in addition to cleaning after closing. Beer and wine is only being served out of plastic cups.

Hirt said evening crowds are usually at about 100 people on the weekdays and 125-150 on the weekends, but now the business will cut off patrons when the 50-person capacity is reached.

Roots Bistro

The entire Roots menu is available to go, and now the restaurant and bar offers service Curbside Togo in addition to local delivery service Waiter With Wheels, owner Jeana Aliani said. The restaurant is remaining open and wiping down everything with Lysol wipes a minimum of each hour and all staff wear gloves, though ordering takeout is encouraged, Aliani added.

Burger University

Owner Carmen May set up her dining room for exactly 50 people so she knows when capacity has been reached, she said.

She has gloves available by the salad bar and has been putting together most salads for the guests to minimize exposure.

May said most of her employees are students at Southwestern University, many of whom are from out of state. She encouraged them to return home to be with their families and said they will have a job when all of this is over.

If the restaurant must close, May said they will not do delivery, as the product is best when consumed fresh and within the first ten minutes.

“But we have insurance,” she said.

18 Carrot Bakery

The weekends are usually full of walk-ins at 18 Carrot Bakery, and Mondays are spent catching up from the rush, but not this Monday, employees Antonie Alderete and Alie Herman said March 16.

“Foot traffic has stopped,” Herman said. “We’re really feeling the effect today. But, loyal customers have been calling in for takeout orders.”

It has also been a challenge to get fresh, organic produce and dairy products to bake the goods with, Alderete added.

Cianfrani Coffee Co.

Barista Jennifer Sawtelle said she noticed a slowdown in business March 12-13, and that the usual Monday crowd on March 16 was lacking.

“The main issue right now is the milk shortage,” she said. “We’re still able to make everything currently, but we’re aware it could be an issue, with the limitations.”

First Watch Daytime Cafe

The Wolf Crossing restaurant has also felt the effect of social distancing, First Watch General Manager Adrian Coy said.

Coy said the business has removed all individual condiments and promotional items from tables and continues to sanitize everything in regular intervals.

While the hours have not changed—the cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily—Coy said they have noticed fewer customers but will continue to operate fully until forced to close. He added the business offers takeout services, but they are not currently being used more than normal.

“We’re just keeping everything as clean as possible,” he said.

Mikey V’s Hot Sauce Shop

Usually samples and chips are set out for customers to taste test. Now guests must ask a Mikey V’s Hot Sauce employee if they would like to sample something, and the employee will use gloves and a spoon to ensure safety, employee Victoria Cruz said.

All Things Kids

The weekend saw 25% of what would otherwise be business as usual, employee Forest Homerding said March 16. He said business was still strong last week until March 13, then it plummeted.

“I hope we get some traffic from people looking to buy stuff they can do/play with at home,” he said.

All Things Kids was going to extend their business hours for spring break but decided to keep the regular hours. Employees are also consistently cleaning every surface and item in the store, Homerding added.

Pink Poppy ARTisan Boutique

Owner Kay Briggs said her business has taken up broadcasting items on Facebook Live to allow people to shop virtually. Briggs said she or her husband will also deliver the item within a 15-mile radius of the store.

In addition to sanitizing the store every hour on the hour, the businesses also had to cancel a few scheduled events, Briggs said regarding changes.

“We’re just trying to not add to the chaos,” Briggs said. “We just want to have a space where [shoppers] can go if they want. If [shoppers] want to go out, [Pink Poppy] has the retail therapy to make it happen.”

Gus’s Drug

The full-service independent pharmacy plans to operate as normal, owner Amanda Bradley said Monday.

“We’ve always offered free delivery [for medications],” she said, adding she expects the demand for that service to increase soon.

“We will take extra cautionary measures with drivers, and we can leave orders at front doors,” she said.

A drive-thru is also available, and new customers are always welcome, Bradley said, adding all medications are still in stock.

Regarding changes, Bradley said more calls are coming in from residents asking for pharmacists’ opinions and recommendations regarding coronavirus concerns. Wipes and hand sanitizer were sold out two weeks ago, and there is none in stock from wholesalers to replace it.

Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa

After a customer touches anything, from the doorknob to a pen and clipboard, employees of Hand and Stone Massage in Wolf Crossing are sure to wipe it down, owner Darrell Aubrey said.

Aubrey also mentioned other changes the business has made to accommodate clients and ensure safety for everyone, including staggering appointments so guests do not have to be in the waiting room together. He said this reduces the number of customers the business can take in, but healthy and safety is a priority.

“We’re doing everything we can so it feels safe for customers and our workers,” Aubrey said. “[Reducing capacity] has taken business down, but it keeps everyone safe.”

The business has also offered membership freezes and waived cancellation fees, he said.

Spa Lux

Spa Lux owner Victoria Clark said the virus is not yet affecting business, but she is concerned it soon could. While the business is doing everything it can to keep the space clean and safe, she said she believes small businesses that have been open for three years or less are going to hurt the most and struggle to keep doors open if business gets tight.

“[Coronavirus] could hurt all small businesses, including our spa and others that rely on guests for services,” Clark said. “It can be detrimental.”

Briggs said similarly that she believes some small businesses will not survive.

Clark said that even if customers do not want to enjoy a service at the moment, they can help support local businesses through purchasing gift cards to be used at a later time.

Versa Spa

Similarly, Versa Spa manager Katy Suriff said business at the tanning spa has continued as usual, adding that they have not experienced cancellations due to the virus.

“People are still keeping their appointments,” Suriff said.

Brave Vira Yoga

The yoga studio stopped doing hands-on assists two weeks ago and ceased using props last week, owner Kelsie Cabrera said. Double the cleanings are being done to the retail space and the bathrooms as well.

Cabrera said she is currently working on a plan for how to proceed if the studio needs to close for any reason.

“We’re exploring the possibility of online classes,” she said, adding a more official plan of action will be announced soon.

9Round Fitness

Klaudia Kincaid, the owner of 9Round Fitness, a kickboxing gym off of University Avenue, said her business has not seen a negative effect due to the coronavirus yet.

Kincaid said she has actually had clients tell her they are glad she has remained open as other businesses begin to shut down.

“We’re staying open until we’re told to close,” Kincaid said.

Editor's note: This article will be updated as new information is received. Email our editorial team at [email protected] to have your business included.

Sally Grace Holtgrieve