Here's how some Houston restaurant owners are combating coronavirus fears

Houston restaurant owners are seeking support amidst coronavirus fears. (Courtesy Pexels)
Houston restaurant owners are seeking support amidst coronavirus fears. (Courtesy Pexels)

Houston restaurant owners are seeking support amidst coronavirus fears. (Courtesy Pexels)

Houston restaurant owners are taking precautions to protect customers and keep businesses running while coronavirus fears mount.

Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that all city-sponsored and produced events are on hold through the end of March. Local school districts and universities are extending spring breaks and considering more long-term closures. The goal, health officials have said, is to reduce the speed at which the virus spreads and prevent a potential overload of the city’s health care system.

Meanwhile, restaurant owners are making adaptations to ensure that employees and guests are safe. Some are canceling events, and most are ramping up sanitation efforts beyond what the city’s health code regularly requires.

“We’re preaching things like no touching of the nose, eyes, mouth, and our runners and bussers are wearing gloves and wiping down door knobs every 15 minutes,” said Jason Mok, a partner at FM Kitchen & Bar near Washington Avenue. “A lot of it is the type of stuff that we usually do anyway, but we’re being even more careful.”

The Texas Restaurant Association has been issuing guidelines for business owners to follow and identifying financial resources for owners and employees.


"The first thing to remember is that this is a public health crisis not a foodborne one. Restaurants are not on the front lines of this. People need to be responsible for themselves where ever they are," said Anna Tauzin, the chief revenue and information officer for the Texas Restaurant Association.

She said those who do not feel comfortable dining out should consider ordering takeout or delivery and buying gift cards from local restaurants. In the meantime, the association is providing information to restaurant owners about how to apply for low-interest loans through the Small Business Administration.

Any member of the restaurant industry, from truck drivers and servers to chefs and owners, can also apply for assistance through local chef Chris Sheperd's nonprofit organization, Southern Smoke. Its namesake barbecue festival scheduled for March 28 was canceled but its emergency relief fund is still active.

Kevin Naderi, chef and owner of Roost in Montrose and consultant for Heights ice cream shop Sweet Bribery, said that while he is ramping up sanitation efforts and experiencing lighter crowds, he wants to encourage the elderly and at-risk population to stay home.

“A meal is a meal, we’ll make it through this,” he said. “We’re all going to need a big boost when this is over.”

Some local businesses have found success with to-go and delivery services to serve those who plan to stay home. Emily Ferrara, owner of Orange Artichoke Kitchen, a homemade prepared meal service in the Heights, said she has seen her customers start to buy larger quantities of her meals, which can be frozen.

“If you’re stuck at home, we can provide a more flavorful meals than the rice and beans everyone is stocking up on,” Ferrara said.

Other business owners, including Bobby Heugel the restaurateur behind establishments in the Heights, Montrose and downtown, took to social media to post updates about sanitation practices and employee policies, including offering paid sick leave and cleaning door handles every 15 minutes.

"Thank you all for your support and diligence in practicing good hygiene. Please stay at home if you are sick. We appreciate your commitment to our places and to our wonderful staff," Heugel wrote in the post.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


MOST RECENT

The text of General Order No. 3, which Gordon Granger issued from Galveston in June 1865 to explicitly liberate enslaved Black Texans, runs across the bottom of the mural. (Colleen Ferguson/Community Impact Newspaper)
‘I am filled’: Houston-Galveston area celebrates first Juneteenth as federal holiday

See how local policymakers, historians, artists and philanthropists honored the Juneteenth holiday at its birthplace with the dedication of a 5,000-square-foot mural.

The Texas Central rail connection from Dallas to Houston will feature a bullet train similar to this one. (Courtesy Texas Central Partners/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Supreme Court declines to review high-speed rail case, freeing company up to use eminent domain

Texas Central, the company looking to build a 236-mile high-speed rail line connecting Houston and Dallas, has been given a big win in an ongoing legal battle over whether the company is legally recognized as a "railroad company" under state law.

The East River 9 golf course and Riverside Houston restaurant will be overlooking the city of Houston skyline. (Rendering of Riverhouse Houston; Courtesy of Sterling Illustration)
Golf course, restaurant coming on bank of Buffalo Bayou

A new public golf course and restaurant are coming to Houston’s Fifth Ward on the bank of Buffalo Bayou in early 2022.

There will be various events across the Houston area celebrating the Fourth of July, including League City's Fireworks Extravaganza. (Courtesy of League City)
12 Fourth of July weekend events, celebrations to attend in the Greater Houston area

Here are 12 Fourth of July weekend events throughout the Houston region.

ribbon cutting
Nearly $400M project to boost Houston-area water supply by up to 500M gallons a day

The project has been in development for over 50 years and broke ground in 2017.

Following Hurricane Harvey, debris lined the streets in many parts of Harris County. (Danica Lloyd/Community Impact Newspaper)
After Department of Housing and Urban Development denies request, Texas General Land Office drafting plan to subaward Harris County $750M for flood mitigation

The Texas General Land Office now plans to subaward Harris County flood mitigation funding after the county was left out of recent Hurricane Harvey relief funds.

freedmens town houston
Freedmen’s Town named Houston’s first ‘Heritage District’

“It's so important for us to do everything we can to hold on to as much of that history and not lose it because it defines in large part who we are as a city, we have lost a lot but we have not lost it all,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

The Prescription Pop—made with Rittenhouse rye whiskey, Bar Spoons Dr. Pepper syrup, cherry bitters and Angostura bitters—is one of several craft cocktails on the menu at the new Daisy Buchanan Lounge in Montrose. (Courtesy Daisy Buchanan Lounge)
1920s-inspired Daisy Buchanan Lounge to open June 19 in Montrose

The new venture will offer craft cocktails and late night eats, while a bar area will boast a one-of-a-kind antique bar and a baby grand piano.

Harris County Pets facilitates pet adoptions, foster placements and more. (Courtesy Harris County Pets)
Harris County Pets temporarily waives adoption fees to control increase of population

Harris County Pets has exceeded its capacity to house its growing pet population, officials said.

Americans spent 44% more shopping on websites, including Amazon, in 2020 than in 2019. (Courtesy Amazon)
Surge in online shopping strains Houston’s distribution channels

Online spending in the U.S. was up 44% from 2019 to 2020, and transportation expert Bill Eisele said this uptick has put a strain on the region’s transportation system.