Richardson businesses find ways to survive under COVID-19 restrictions

Industrial Pizza + Brew has embraced takeout and curbside pickup following the statewide ban on dine-in service. From left are owners Kelly and Becky Newsom and son and daughter-in-law Hunter and Mariana Newsom. (Courtesy Industrial Pizza + Brew)
Industrial Pizza + Brew has embraced takeout and curbside pickup following the statewide ban on dine-in service. From left are owners Kelly and Becky Newsom and son and daughter-in-law Hunter and Mariana Newsom. (Courtesy Industrial Pizza + Brew)

Industrial Pizza + Brew has embraced takeout and curbside pickup following the statewide ban on dine-in service. From left are owners Kelly and Becky Newsom and son and daughter-in-law Hunter and Mariana Newsom. (Courtesy Industrial Pizza + Brew)

Image description
In its first year of business, Industrial Pizza + Brew received a warm reception from the Richardson community—so much so that co-owner Kelly Newsom said his restaurant was “busting at the seams.”

“We were at a point where we had to ramp up our takeout business. ... All of that has, in hindsight, helped us with what’s going on now,” he said.

Business dropped as the state forced dining rooms to close. Then came Dallas County’s shelter-in-place order March 23. Richardson’s order came two days later.

“We’re asking our business community to make a tremendous sacrifice, and that’s not lost on us,” Mayor Paul Voelker said during a Richardson Chamber of Commerce board meeting.

“We’ve become a more service-oriented community. Our service industry is really taking it on the nose, and their employees are really hurting.”


The survival of small businesses is essential to the nation’s ability to regain footing once this crisis is over, said Paul Nichols, executive director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at The University of Texas at Dallas.

“They can throttle up a lot quicker,” he said. “The problem, though, is that they also don’t have the resources of a juggernaut, so they tend to throttle down a lot faster, too.”

The public and private sectors have stepped in to soften the blow to the economy by providing monetary relief. But with so much out there, it is important that business owners focus on finding the relief that is right for them, Nichols said.

“They need to really be spending some time reading and researching because these are things that are changing by the day,” he said.

The strain on small businesses brought on by the coronavirus is threefold, said Marta Gomez Frey, director of the Collin Small Business Development Center.

Many establishments are not only struggling to get customers through the door but are also grappling with skeletal workforces and inventory shortages, Frey said.

“The overall mood among business owners is sadness, desperation and frustration,” she said.

In 2019, the U.S. Small Business Administration reported a total of 256,060 companies with 250 or fewer employees across Collin, Dallas, Tarrant and Denton counties. This represented roughly a 9% increase as compared to the previous year’s total.

Companies of all sizes have been forced to reinvent themselves in the wake of the crisis. Across DFW, businesses have pivoted to provide essential services.

“Good entrepreneurs are always able to take advantage of a shifting market or environment and make sure they stay just in front of customer needs,” Nichols said.

Lockwood Distilling in Richardson has halted the production of spirits and is instead using high-proof alcohol to make hand sanitizer. The business is selling the product while also donating it to organizations in need.

“We are going to do our best to share the wealth and get it to as many people as possible,” owner Evan Batt said.

Other companies have shifted to serve groups hit particularly hard by the virus. Richardson-based Orchard at the Office used to deliver fresh produce and healthy snacks to office complexes; now, it delivers those same products to the homes of people at higher risk for the disease.

“This benefits seniors, people with compromised immune systems, pregnant women ... because they are receiving products that have been minimally touched and minimally processed,” owner Amy Long said.

Adapting to this new environment can also help companies avoid furloughs or layoffs. At Asian Mint in Richardson, servers now take carryout 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,” owner Nikky Phinyawatana said.

“Feeding souls” has always been the mission of Asian Mint, she said, and that does not stop just because people are sheltering in place. So Phinyawatana launched a meal kit program, featuring a recipe card and fresh, premeasured ingredients.

“The goal was to get people cooking at home, building a community and having something to bond over,” she said.

Protecting the local workforce is especially crucial at a time when national unemployment claims are 32 times higher than they were this time last year, according to April 4 data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Despite this, some businesses have opted to cut their losses and close for the time being, said David Denney, president of the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association.

“Some owners have made the choice to go dark, put their people into the unemployment system and try to hold back some of their reserves for when this thing blows over,” Denney said.

In all crises, there is also opportunity, Nichols said. While inconvenient, these adaptations may prove valuable down the line.

“For good or for bad, a lot of companies are going to be shaken up by this,” he said. “The decks are going to be shifted, so what can you do to take advantage of that changing situation?”

Even as limits on businesses are lifted, it is going to take time for companies to make up for the loss in sales, to regain employees or to restock supplies, Frey said. For some, it could take months or even years.

“It’s going to take a while for all those pieces to get back in order to be whole again,” she said.
By Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.


MOST RECENT

Grizzly Burger House's menu includes the Hawaiian cheeseburger and more. (Courtesy Grizzly Burger House)
Grizzly Burger House now serving hamburgers, more in Richardson

The restaurant offers a variety of hamburgers as well as breakfast dishes, Philly cheesesteaks, chicken strips and more.

Chicken-fried steak and eggs ($11.99) are served with hash browns and Texas toast. (Courtesy The Cottage)
The Cottage eatery opens in Roanoke and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Feeding Texas hosted a Jan. 19 webinar to discuss legislative highlights for the 87th Texas Legislature. (Screenshot courtesy Feeding Texas)
Food insecurity in Texas' 87th Legislature: Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas to propose legislation addressing hunger

Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas hosted a webinar Jan. 19 to discuss increasing funding and accessibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the 87th legislative session.

SPENGA North Dallas Richardson is currently open and plans to hold a grand opening event Feb. 1. (Courtesy SPENGA North Dallas Richardson)
SPENGA North Dallas Richardson opens local fitness studio

SPENGA offers one-hour group training workouts that include 20 minutes of spin, 20 minutes of strength training and 20 minutes of yoga.

Volunteers prepare care packages for those found unsheltered and facing homelessness on the night of the point-in-time count in 2019. (Courtesy Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance)
Annual homelessness count adapted to answer questions brought on by pandemic in Collin, Dallas counties

The point-in-time count in Collin and Dallas counties will not look like it has in recent years, when upward of 1,000 volunteers would canvas the streets to get an accurate count of the number of unsheltered residents facing homelessness.

COVID-19 vaccines
DATA: Texas has vaccinated about 9% of estimated Phase 1 recipients

Over 1.1 million individuals from the Phase 1 population, which is estimated to include 13.5 million individuals total, have received at least one dose.

Bob Popinski, policy director of Raise Your Hand Texas, shared the organization's top education priorities for the ongoing legislative session. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
‘What does virtual learning and remote learning look like moving forward?': Raise Your Hand Texas policy director talks legislative priorities

Bob Popinski is the director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas, an Austin-based organization committed to improving public education. He spoke with Community Impact Newspaper in late December about the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12.

iDanz Performing Arts Studio offers dance lessons in various styles, such as hip-hop, jazz, tap, ballet, Afro-fusion and more. (Courtesy iDanz Performing Arts Studio)
iDanz Performing Arts Studio to hold open house for new Richardson location

The studio’s instructors specialize in dance, choreography, show production and artistic development.

A Layne's Chicken Fingers restaurant will open in Roanoke in 2021 at the site of the former Dairy Queen on US 377. (Courtesy Layne's Chicken Fingers)
Layne's Chicken Fingers to open in Roanoke; meat, seafood market set for Frisco and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The British Emporium offers a wide selection of imported goods and groceries. (Courtesy The British Emporium)
British Emporium to continue operating at Fish & Fizz in Richardson

The business offers traditional British foods, such as brandy butter, mince pies, crackers and more.

The new 945 area code will be deployed Jan. 15 for the region that presently uses area codes 214, 469 and 972. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Frisco gets new area code; Popeyes to open in McKinney and more top DFW news

Read the top news from the past week from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Burnt BBQ & Tacos' menu offers several different barbecue and taco options. (Courtesy Burnt BBQ & Tacos)
Burnt BBQ & Tacos opens in Plano and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.