Austin businesses get creative to mitigate impact of COVID-19

For months, COVID-19 halted business in Austin. So while the pandemic continues, business owners are getting creative on how to not feel the impacts of COVID completely. 

Orlando Sanchez is with the El Chile Group and said at times it has been challenging. "We changed everything," he said. 

From the beginning of the pandemic and shutting down, to moving to curbside and limited capacity seating, re-opening has felt like re-learning everything from the beginning. However, as things are beginning to pick back up and restaurants can move to 75 percent capacity, Sanchez said he is seeing a demand for larger dining options. 



That's why he's created a space for just that - La Cantina, an area that Sanchez says can host small social gatherings, wedding receptions, and holiday parties.

"A space that we can still adhere to all the CDC guidelines and be safe about it, but still give people an option who want to get together a place to get together," he said. 

Sanchez added that the setup of restaurants of the past are most likely to stay there. "The scene of driving by packed restaurants with tables packed together a foot and a half apart, are gone," he said. "I don't think people want to dine that way anymore." 

RELATED: FOX 7 Discussion: Downtown Austin roadmap to recovery

RELATED: Study: Half of Americans who lost jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic remain jobless

Also changing the way they are doing business is the fine arts industry.

"Art Heist" is an interactive theater show coming to The State Theatre on October 14–31. It's based on the true-crime story of Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston and will take Austinites on a walking show where socially distanced groups walk to multiple locations to gather clues.

Shows will depart from the State every 30 minutes and are approximately 90-100 minutes long. Tickets are available online. Those who attend the show will stay in groups that will be socially distanced. Actors will also be socially distanced from the crowds. 

RELATED: Evictions suspended in Austin-Travis County through December

"We have an actor in one place and the audience comes and meets them," said director TJ Dawe. "Then, the audience is standing six feet apart from one another and 10 feet apart from the actor." 

Dawe said that during this time, people are craving interaction and engagement. 

RELATED: Austin City Council to vote on proposal to help fund struggling music venues

“COVID-19 has changed the game for everyone in the arts,” he said. “Many of the elements we took for granted are gone, or at least on hold for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, there’s nothing like a career as a freelancing artist working in new theatre to cultivate adaptability and openness to innovation. With that mentality, every project is a unique challenge already.”


FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at