Coronavirus affecting Katy-area entertainment businesses built for crowds

VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa Cinco Ranch opened March 5, but Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order effective March 20 closing all gyms. (Courtesy VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa)
VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa Cinco Ranch opened March 5, but Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order effective March 20 closing all gyms. (Courtesy VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa)

VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa Cinco Ranch opened March 5, but Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order effective March 20 closing all gyms. (Courtesy VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa)

Katy-area businesses are either closing until further notice or adapting their business to the rules of social distancing and quarantine due to the evolving global pandemic related to the coronavirus.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced an executive order effective March 20 that forces bars and clubs to close and prohibits restaurants to limit their services to takeout and delivery only. Additionally, gyms and schools are temporarily closed, and visitors are not allowed in nursing homes except for critical care. The order also limits gatherings to no more than 10 people.

Entertainment businesses that rely on crowds of people are among the most affected, business owners said. Unlike restaurants, most of their services cannot be arranged for delivery or pickup.

Businesses such as Top Golf, Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park, Cinemark Theatres and Cosmic Air Trampoline Park have posted online messages stating they are temporarily closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I’ve seen a drop [in business] in the kids' entertainment industry—they’re all closed,” said Jennifer Pierce, a territory manager in the Katy area for State Chemical, also known as State Industrial Products, which sells cleaning products, such as disinfectan, to commercial businesses.


Other businesses that rely on crowds of people are VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa and Pinot’s Palette, which typically hosts guided painting classes for groups of people.

Thomas Westbrook, the general manager for the VillaSport Cinco Ranch location, said the fitness club is taking the mandatory restrictions as an opportunity to connect with existing members and to attract new people with the variety of experts at their facility.

"With everyone anchored to their TVs, phones, etc., we still want to be the best part of their day," he said. "This is giving us the opportunity to think outside the box and connect with as many people as we want via social media."

He added there have recently been many businesses opening in the Katy area, including VillaSport, and they need support from the community to survive.

“We are retaining as much of our staff as we reasonably can during this time, and we are going to continue doing that as long as we possibly can,” Westbrook said. “But that can only happen with the continued support of people who see value in supporting, and that is something that pertains to every single business being affected right now.”

Westbrook said supporting local businesses during this time will overall benefit the local economy.

“As long as the community continues to support business that creates such a cyclical effect,” he said. “Ultimately, the dollar they invest in the business comes back to them some way, somehow.“

Meredith Lanning, owner of Pinot’s Palette in Katy, said she had been taking measures to be extra sanitary and maintain social distancing rules in her classes last week, she has now suspended in-studio classes until April 11.

Lanning said she will offer take-home paint kits and watercolor adventures for curbside pickup on weekdays and maybe on weekends from noon-3 p.m. In addition, Pinot’s Palette will hold virtual classes March 24 and 26.

“We can’t plan into the future because it is hosted in Ohio, which may go on lockdown,” Lanning said.

Lanning said she worries about what will happen if the Katy area goes into full lockdown, which will mean not allowing individuals to leave their homes at all unless absolutely necessary.

“If regulations were to pass to not allow people to leave their homes at all, I don't know how I am going to sell pickup kits for money because people would still have to come get the materials,” Lanning said.

She added that her landlord has not said anything about deferring rent at the end of the month.

“If we go [into full lockdown], ... I have artists that need to make money,” she said. “This isn't even for me right now. I would like to break even. Breaking even would be great. I just want my artists to get shifts because they don't get paid if they don't have art classes to give.”
By Nola Valente
A native Texan, Nola serves as reporter for the Katy edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She studied print journalism at the University of Houston and French at the University of Paris-Sorbonne in France. Nola was previously a foreign correspondent in Jerusalem, Israel covering Middle East news through an internship with an American news outlet.


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