Richardson business owners urge community to patronize restaurants as some teeter on brink of closure

The parking lot at Richardson's Chinatown development was nearly vacant midday March 16. (Tracy Ruckel/Community Impact Newspaper)
The parking lot at Richardson's Chinatown development was nearly vacant midday March 16. (Tracy Ruckel/Community Impact Newspaper)

The parking lot at Richardson's Chinatown development was nearly vacant midday March 16. (Tracy Ruckel/Community Impact Newspaper)

Amid revenue nosedives at restaurants citywide, business owners are urging the community to skip the grocery store and order food to-go.

As of midnight March 17, Dallas County restaurants are no longer allowed to seat customers. This is intended to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, of which the county has recorded 24 cases. At Asian Mint in Richardson, owner Nikky Phinyawatana said to-go and delivery orders are the only things keeping her business open. In Day 1 of the mandate, Phinyawatana reported a revenue loss of roughly 90%.

“If we have enough takeout business to support our staff, then we can continue to stay open,” she said.

Family-owned restaurant Aboca’s Italian Grill is also feeling the strain, according to Director of Catering Jason Mckee. The restaurant saw about 10% of the business it regularly receives, he said.

“We are trying to stay positive, but realistically, we are kind of nervous,” he said.


Phinyawatana said she “strongly considered” closing two of her four DFW locations but could not bring herself to make that call with so many employees’ livelihoods on the line.

Instead, servers have been given the option to begin taking takeout orders or drive deliveries.

“As a business owner, I’m willing to eat all operational expenses because it’s the people I care about the most—they have mouths to feed and families as well. And they are part of our family,” she said.

Aboca’s has been forced to cut server hours by half as it transitions to front-of-house operations, such as receiving and preparing takeout orders.

“People have to adapt, but right now, that’s all we can do,” Mckee said.

Unlike some jobs, restaurant workers are unable to work from home, making it all the more important for the general public to support them during this time, Modern Market CEO Anthony Pigliacampo said in a March 17 statement. Modern Market has a location in Richardson’s CityLine development.

“You can order delivery or pickup from any restaurant still open and be guaranteed a safe experience, much safer than if you fought over the last roll of toilet paper at Safeway,” the newsletter said.

Phinyawatana reiterated that point—her managers are taking extreme measures to ensure the sanitation of surfaces as well as the health of workers, she said. Employees are required to wash their hands every 15 minutes, she added.

“We are changing the water in our sanitation buckets every two hours, which is more than what is recommended,” she said. “We are wiping down all high-touch points: [point of sale], door handles, telephones—anything that we are constantly touching, we are wiping down as we go.”

To other business owners facing the same struggle, Phinyawatana recommends staying positive and tracking their numbers daily.

“This, too, shall pass—stay calm and wash your hands. Send out good energy and good vibes,” she said.

McKee called on the community to help keep restaurants from closing for good.

“We need their help,” he said. “We need them to continue spending their money at local businesses.”

Editor's note: Are you a business owner with information on how the coronavirus has affected your restaurant or retail establishment? We want to hear from you. Please reach out by calling 512-989-6808 or emailing [email protected].

Olivia Lueckemeyer - Makenzie Plusnick