Earlier this week, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that restaurants and retail shops could reopen May 1 at up to 25% capacity. The step is part of a multiphase plan to slowly reopen the state’s economy and get Texans back to work.
“It’s a fact: It’s hard to get rid of this virus because it is so contagious,” Abbott said during an April 27 news conference. “So we’re not just going to open up and hope for the best. Instead, we will put measures in place that will help businesses open while also containing the virus and keeping Texans safe.”
Only a few cars sat in the parking lot of II Creeks Plaza in Canyon Creek on Friday afternoon. One couple was seated for lunch on the patio at Frankie's Mexican Cuisine. Owner Augustine Jimenez said his decision to reopen was made with his people in mind.
“The community wants us to open, and we have a lot of workers who want to come back,” he said. “As a business owner, I’m scared about all of this, but I do want to come back.”
North Rich Plaza was also slow around lunch time. Tineo Peruvian Cafe will keep its dining room closed for at least another month, administrator Edgar Tello said.
“Despite the government’s announcement, we choose to not take that risk because for us it is the health of our employees and our customers that is a priority,” he said.
According to a recent poll conducted by The Texas Tribune and The University of Texas, three-quarters of registered voters support orders to stay home except for essential activities. Another two-thirds agree with decisions by Abbott and other local officials to suspend nonessential business operations, results of the poll showed.
As they waited outside vegan bakery Cinnaholic, father and son Tom and Max Brunell said they will stick with takeout until cases of the virus begin to drop off.
“Going to a restaurant seems like an unnecessary risk,” Max Brunell said.
So far in Dallas County, 3,718 people have been infected with the coronavirus, and 106 people have died. After two weeks when the average daily case count remained in the double digits, the number of cases spiked on Tuesday and remained in the triple digits for the next three days.
“Our highest three days have all been this week,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a May 1 press release. “All of this illustrates why we must all make smart decisions and follow the science to flatten the curve.”
At Canyon Creek Shopping Center, husband and wife Kurt and Carol Middelkoop waited for takeout at Thai-fusion restaurant Asian Mint. The couple said they were excited to begin eating inside restaurants again.
“Absolutely we are going to get back out,” Kurt Middelkoop said. “Mainly, we want to support these businesses because if we don’t, they won’t be here in six months.”
Dennis and Sylvia Cherry said they have been ordering takeout from local restaurants daily to pump money back into the economy. They chose to sit on the patio at Urban Eatz only after they sanitized the table, Sylvia Cherry said.
“Since there was no one on the patio, we just picked up our food and brought it here instead of going to the car and eating it,” she said. “Otherwise, we would not be here.”
Despite the governor’s order, they will not be dining in restaurants any time soon, she said.
“We are perfectly content with keeping our distance,” Sylvia Cherry said. “We are hoping that things are great and things can happen with no consequences, but we are going to give it a little time.”
Fish City Grill reopened its dining room at CityLine Market on May 1 with new precautions in place to protect its employees and guests, manager Meredith Pena said.
Guests must wait to be seated at a check-in point outside the restaurant, and tables have been measured to ensure they are six feet apart. Additionally, some inside tables have been removed to ensure the restaurant does not exceed 25% capacity.
The restaurant has an employee whose sole job is to sanitize the restaurant, Pena said. The restaurant is also taking steps to make sure both their servers and back-of-house workers keep themselves and guests healthy.
“Our employees get their temperatures checked every morning, we all wear gloves and face masks through the shift, and we have a timer to wash our hands and change our gloves every fifteen minutes,” Pena said.
Of the five restaurants that make up Richardson Restaurant Park, only Dog Haus Biergarten was open to dine-in customers at lunchtime on May 1.
At 25% occupancy, Dog Haus can serve roughly 30 dine-in patrons, restaurant park developer Kirk Hermansen said. The restaurant has gone above and beyond the sanitation and hygiene guidelines put in place by the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said.
“We know people will be watching us, and we want to do the right thing,” he said.
Dog Haus has made small steps toward restoring the revenue it lost over the past six weeks, Hermansen said. For now, the restaurant will continue offering its robust takeout, curbside and delivery options in addition to serving customers inside the restaurant.
“Everybody is trying to figure out the right balance right now,” he said.