Restaurants, including Bayou Grill, Super Bowl Asian Cuisine and Teahouse, Taglia Fresh Italian and Jado’z Grill House, are seeing fewer sales than they did before the coronavirus spread.
“A lot of people come in for dine-in, and they want out. Some people understand, but mostly they want out,” said Joe An, manager at Bayou Grill.
Bayou Grill serves seafood, burgers and Vietnamese food. Since the spread of the virus, the business has offered 10% off to-go orders placed over the phone. Even with the dining room closed, the business has still kept that promotion, An said. However, the business still has not seen the same stream of people into the business. Because of this, the business has seen around 50% fewer sales, An said.
“We worry a lot because we need to pay rent,” An said.
While Jado’z Grill House has not had to worry about not being able to pay rent yet, the business’ sales are down 50% since this started, owner Jad Zeidan said.
“The first week of March was really good. We were on pace for the same numbers as last year, maybe a little better,” Zeidan said.
Once people started to become concerned about the virus, sales went down at the restaurant, which serves American and Mediterranean food, he said. The money they are making now can cover rent and employees, but Zeidan is left to figure out the rest, he said.
“I just hope things get back to normal soon,” Zeidan said.
Taglia Fresh Italian has just celebrated its six-month mark in Pearland, and the business is seeing 30% of the sales it had raked in prior, Rabanal said. Those sales have mainly been boosted by their loyal customers, she said.
“When I see people placing to-go, a lot are people who come in once a week or once every couple of weeks,” she said.
On top of a sales decline, Taglia has experienced a shortage of supplies as well, including pizza boxes and fresh produce, much of which is being bought up by larger grocery stores, Rabanal said.
“There has been a shortage on pizza boxes. Now that we are doing all to-go, it’s important that we have them,” Rabanal said.
Super Bowl owner Crystal Lee has also seen a shortage in rice and in to-go boxes, meaning that the restaurant has to limit how many boxes they give to customers.
“Everybody is buying more rice; I don’t know why,” Lee said.
Super Bowl Asian Cuisine, which serves Chinese and Taiwanese food, has also been sustained by loyal customers so far, but the business is still seeing a dip in sales, as dine-in customers had always made up 80% of their revenue, Lee said. While the restaurant is maintaining this for now, Lee said she is not sure how long that will last.
“We have no idea how it ends and when it is going to end. For all of the small business[es], one month may be OK, but two months, three months, four months ... Who is going to be able to pay rent?” Lee said.
Promotions and loyal customers
Though Taglia has seen a decrease in sales, different promotions have helped the business, owner Sheri Rabanal said.
“There are a lot of things that we have adapted,” Rabanal said.
Notable changes include having all servers become delivery drivers and turning the patio in the front of the business to a curbside pickup location. Rabanal has also started including handwritten notes in to-go orders to thank people for supporting the business.
Rabanal originally handed a note out to a loyal customer, who suggested she include it with all orders. The notes now come complete with a discount for customers who come back and order in the two weeks following when they received the code.
Jado’z has also offered promotions, including discounts for customers who mention the discount or those who order from the restaurant directly rather than from a third-party delivery service. Ordering from the restaurant directly helps keep more revenue in the business, Zeidan said.
The business has seen a lot of returning customers at this time, too, he said.
“We have a lot of loyal customers that come. They show their support. That helps,” Zeidan said.
Like Taglia and Jado'z, the Central Texas Style Barbecue has had to make some adjustments in the way it does business. It offers promotions, including marking down an item each day and often selling in bulk. Certain items, such as a discounted side of mac and cheese, have been marked down, keeping in mind parents who are working at home with children.
“We have something really cheap for people who are impacted financially or their hours are cut,” owner Ruth LeClere said.
Central Texas Style Barbecue has also been primarily sustained through a loyal customer base, LeClere said.
“I think that we’ve been here for 50 years, and we have been through so many natural disasters with people, with the community. I think sometimes, we are like comfort to people,” LeClere said.
Central Texas has been lucky to not have a significant drop in business up to this point, LeClere said.
“If we can continue to do this, we’ll be OK. We’ll make it through,” she said.
The business has also tried to support other family-owned businesses and to ride out the storm, LeClere said.
“Sometimes, life gets a little tough, but you just keep trucking,” LeClere said.