An executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott took effect March 20. The order limits social gatherings to 10 people or less and prohibits eating and drinking at restaurants and bars while still allowing takeout.
The biggest impact has been on staff, FnG Eats co-owner Bob Stephenson said.
“I have cut my staff down to a quarter of what it was,” he said. “I had 45 employees.”
The restaurant’s hours have also been impacted, Stephenson said. It is now open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on weekends when it previously opened at 10:30 a.m. for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
But with adversity comes new ideas, Stephenson said.
“It makes you think outside the box more,” he said. “We went through something similar with 9/11. We had to think about how we could be more efficient with what we do and still be able to take care of the guest.”
Leaning on Stephenson’s background in Italian cooking, the restaurant has broadened its menu and is now offering a full list of take-and-bake options along with a soup of the day.
Together with co-owner and fellow chef Carlos Arevalo, Stephenson has created options, such as the King Ranch Casserole ($45), meat or chicken lasagna ($45), baked ziti with meat or chicken ($45) and FnG Mac & Cheese ($36).
Take-and-bake options come in half-size hotel pans, and each feeds anywhere from 10-12 people, Stephenson said. Baking instructions are included with each order, and customers are encouraged to bake and then freeze portions to enjoy throughout the week.
Customers can simply pull up, and an FnG Eats employee will run their meal out to the car. Employees will wear gloves, and pens and clipboards are regularly sanitized, Stephenson said.
The restaurant has seen early success with the new take-and-bake menu and may offer it as an option moving forward, Stephenson said, along with future to-go salad and gluten-free options.
The restaurant is also still offering a full menu for takeout and to-go options, including bottles of wine and beer.
“The biggest thing for us is being a presence in the community and being able to do whatever we can to service the community,” Stephenson said. “This is the stuff that is helping us keep the lights on.”