Dripping Springs restaurants begin transition to takeout service as future operations remain uncertain

A photo of Dripping Springs' Mercer Street.
A number of Dripping Springs dining establishments are implementing new takeaway options as they try to keep sales up during the novel coronavirus outbreak. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

A number of Dripping Springs dining establishments are implementing new takeaway options as they try to keep sales up during the novel coronavirus outbreak. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

Following the news that Austin dining establishments were required to switch to mandatory takeout service to stem transmission of coronavirus, many restaurants in nearby Dripping Springs still have their doors open to customers, but say they are preparing to make the shift themselves.

Vicky Lewis, co-founder of Mazama Coffee Co. in downtown Dripping Springs, said she worries about the future of her establishment.

“I’m very nervous about our ability to stay open and employ our staff,” she said.

Mazama, which employs 20 part-time and three full-time employees, has seen sales decline by around 40% since coronavirus concerns “got real,” Lewis said. The business is looking to reduce labor by at least 30% in order to get through.

A representative from another downtown eatery, Rolling in Thyme & Dough, said he had also seen a reduction in customers of at least 50% recently, despite implementing curbside ordering and ramping up health and safety measures.

“In all honesty, we are expecting [Dripping Springs] to tell us to shut down as basically everywhere else has,” Jeremy Bollom, co-owner of Thyme & Dough said.

However, business owners are working to adjust. Lewis said she is putting measures in place at Mazama that she hopes will allow it to adapt to the current situation.

“Instead of panicking, we are brainstorming,” she said.

Some of the solutions Mazama has or plans to implement in order to boost sales while fewer customers are dining in include online ordering and setting up a mobile espresso cart outside the building so that customers do not have to enter the establishment. Lewis has discussed other potential innovations with staff, including offering local delivery and curbside pickup.

Lewis also said Mazama plans to move exclusively to takeaway service beginning the morning of March 21 in an effort to protect “the safety of [Mazama’s] staff and to do our part to work towards containment of this horrible virus as swiftly as possible so we can get back to normal sooner rather than later.”

Other local-owned Dripping Springs and Driftwood dining establishments that are offering special takeaway options include Homespun Kitchen & Bar, Suds Monkey Brewery, Pieous Pizza, Crepe Crazy, Treaty Oak Distilling and Salt Lick Barbecue, among others.

Belterra Village barbecue establishment The Switch has already transitioned to become takeaway-only, alongside its Central Austin counterpart Stiles Switch, according to co-owner Catherine Stiles.

Stiles said whether her businesses maintain their takeaway services during the current coronavirus scare or shut down temporarily depends on community support.

“It could be more cost-effective to just shut down if we’re losing money by staying open,” Stiles said.

Although Dripping Springs City Council has a meeting tonight to discuss topics relevant to the coronavirus pandemic, the agenda for that meeting currently does not reflect a resolution to close city businesses to dine-in customers. Other business owners, including Lewis, anticipate the move in the near future, however.

“I think Austin is doing the right thing,” Lewis said. “I hope the decision doesn’t put us out of business.”
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition. She graduated from Presbyterian College with a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing in 2017. Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia, South Carolina before joining Community Impact in Austin.


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