Austin restaurant owners weigh costs of safely opening dining room services

Once the stay at home order expires on April 30th, Texas restaurants can welcome people to dine in.

Some businesses have shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic while others have managed to adapt services with to-go orders and delivery. Z-Tejas went the extra mile in offering groceries with their meals. On Friday the southern grill will be opening its doors at 25 percent capacity.

RELATED: State stay-at-home order will expire on April 30, first phase of businesses reopening May 1

“We have been able to really roll up our sleeves and really ask ourselves what we can do and really entrenched ourselves in the community,” said COO Robby Nethercut. “Our first priority is the safety of our guests and the safety of our team members so we do have a set of guidelines that we are going to be following.”

Nethercut said the restaurant will be following the state’s recommended guidelines by continuing health protocols like checking the staff’s temperature and wearing masks. Tables will be more than six feet apart to maintain social distance and customers will be given disposable menus and utensils.


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“It’s not let’s re-open and get back to the races it’s a start and we understand that we have the responsibility, that we need to take it very seriously so that the rest of the economy can continue to open,” said Nethercut. “We are asking our guests to help us out to protect themselves as well as our employees, we will be checking the temperature of our guests before they enter the building and we are going to ask that they wear their masks as well.”

Customers can make reservations, or call and wait in line in their cars. Z-Tejas is confidently taking extra precautions to help customers feel safe. 

On the east side, Juan in a Million is preparing to take similar precautions. Juan Meza applauded the governor’s plan to slowly open businesses back up. 

“It’s never going to be the same as it was at least not for a long time but we can do it slowly and I think it’s a good approach,” said Meza.

RELATED: Austin health officials say it’s too early to open up Texas economy

Both restaurants will continue to offer curbside to-go and delivery. However not every restaurant is on board. Toss Pizzeria and Pub owner Justin De La Cruz said he felt opening his dining room would be too soon.

“We want to take some time to discuss, put a plan in place look at the pros and cons of it and have a solid plan that we are confident on that we are providing the safest environment possible,” De La Cruz said.

Eric Silverstein, owner of The Peached Tortilla, echoed De La Cruz's sentiments, waiting to see if restaurants can open back up at 50 percent by May 18th.

RELATED: Hair salons left out of new executive order from Gov. Abbott

“I couldn't open up this weekend even if we wanted to because trying to open up a restaurant within three or four days is impossible,” said Silverstein. “My gut feels like it’s a little early and in June people might feel differently after we’ve been in lockdown for a few months.”

Many restaurants are still determining whether or not they will open this weekend. A spokesperson for Torchy’s Tacos said they are still deciding; meanwhile, P-Terry’s will hold off for a while. All business owners FOX 7 spoke to Tuesday said they were grateful for local support.


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