Austin restaurant owners split over opening to 100% capacity

Local business owners seem split down the middle when it comes to Governor Abbott’s announcement allowing all businesses to bump up capacity to 100%. Some tell FOX 7 Austin they are thrilled to get back to normal, while others remain unsure.

"Today is not a day to throw out all those protocols and to go back to life on March 1st. Each of these restaurants needs to be really thoughtful and have a discussion with their employees and their guests about interacting as they move forward," said Dr. Emily Williams Knight, President And CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association.

Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott announced all businesses can re-open at 100% capacity. This does include bars.

"I think it's a little too soon," said Tinku Saini, CEO of Tarka Indian Kitchen.

At the beginning of this pandemic, restaurants were forced to only do carry-out to slow the spread of COVID-19. Over time, those businesses have adapted and have been operating at a 25% to 75% capacity for months.



"I just don't want to see all the progress we've made as a state, sort of, you know, be reversed by opening perhaps a little too early," said Saini.

Some restaurant owners say they will continue what they’ve been doing, and that means requiring guests to wear a mask and social distance tables. 

"As a company, we're just going to continue to do what we're doing. We understand that that isn't necessarily a decision that maybe everyone's going to agree with. Obviously, this is a very controversial topic in the country, but, for now, that's our decision, and we're just going to stick by it," said Robert Nethercut, COO of Z'tejas.

Meanwhile, other businesses owners say they're going to take up Governor Abbott’s new plan like bar owner Bob Woody. "Wear a mask if you want. There's people that are going to wear masks the rest of their lives and that's fine. It's okay, and you can come in if you want to wear your mask, but you don't have to."

The choice is up to each individual business owner to decide what to do.

"COVID is still here, and restaurants and really every single Texan must remain vigilant and follow the best practices to keep them and their neighbors safe," said Kelsey Erickson Streufert with the Texas Restaurant Association.